(From American Civil Liberties Union Missouri)
Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Kansas City School District, because the district violated a student’s First Amendment rights. The suit asks the court to stop punishing the student for participating in a protest.
When Governor Nixon began speaking during an assembly on Nov. 20 at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, 14 students stood and held their hands up in a sign of surrender. They were immediately ushered out of the auditorium, sent home and threatened with a 10-day suspension. This punishment was changed to a Saturday School detention.
“This student was exercising her constitutional rights by expressing the message that she stood in solidarity with other protesters across Missouri and the country after the death of Michael Brown,” explains Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “The school should be proud to have taught their students to be confident in their right to express themselves to the Governor.”
“School administrators cannot punish students for communications they think will bring negative attention to the school,” explained Sarah Rossi, the ACLU of Missouri’s director of advocacy and policy. “The First Amendment does not permit that.”
The ACLU of Missouri is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that defends and expands the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all Missourians guaranteed under the United States and Missouri Constitutions, through its litigation, legislative and public education programs. It is an affiliate of the national ACLU.