Video: The Reformers takes on controversial Douglas County School Board
Colorado documentary-maker Brian Malone has taken on some big topics over the years, including the media in Breaking News and environmental dangers via Intelligent Life -- not to mention the late, great Blinky the Clown. But his latest project -- The Reformers, launching tonight in Parker -- is among his most passionate and personal. The subject? The Douglas County School Board, which had him arrested earlier this year for taking video of a meeting. Get details and see clips from The Reformers below.
Photos, videos below.
When it came to The Reformers, Malone -- that's him as a youngster in the photo above -- didn't have to look far for inspiration.
"I am a longtime Castle Rock resident," he notes. "I grew up here and went to Douglas County schools from the time I was in first grade -- 43 years ago, going on 44. And when I got married and had kids, I moved back because it was a great school district." He points out that when his children attended preschool, they did so in what was Malone's old first-grade classroom at Cantril Elementary.
Over time, however, Malone says, "I kept hearing from teachers and different people I'd known for years, telling me, 'You need to look into doing a film about the school board. What's going on is crazy.'"
A screen capture from "The Reformers."
Malone hadn't planned to jump right into another project, having just finished a big one -- a documentary entitled Patriocracy. But he was curious enough that "I started covering school board meetings. I'd show up with my camera just to observe what was going on and deduce whether there was a story there or not."
Soon, the story came to him. Last summer, he was escorted out of a meeting and formally charged with disrupting a lawful assembly. To fight the allegation, he turned to the ACLU, and this past April, the criminal count against him was dropped. In a statement, ACLU of Colorado legal director Mark Silverstein said, "This decision reinforces that access to public meetings for the media and general public is a fundamental right that should never be criminalized."
For Malone's part, he continued to look into the activities of the board, whose members maintain that they are simply trying to give Douglas County parents more choices for educating their children -- an approach they believe will improve poor test scores and lackluster school performance. Ultimately, though, he came to see things very differently.
Continue for more about The Reformers, including a trailer from the film.