Suspension and ban of student from graduation is unnecessary and unconstitutional
Kansas City, Mo. – The ACLU of Missouri has filed a lawsuit against the Independence School District on behalf of a senior whose free speech rights were violated when he was suspended and denied the ability to participate in his graduation ceremony after he placed a satirical ad on Craigslist posting his high school for sale.
On Thursday, the ACLU of Missouri sent a letter to Independence School District Superintendent Dale Herl, urging the district to reconsider Kylan Scheele’s ban from his graduation ceremony because of the district’s unreasonable interpretation of a fake, satirical Craigslist ad Scheele placed as a prank.
The district’s three-day suspension and ban from graduation violated the senior’s First Amendment and due process rights.
Scheele engaged in entirely non-threatening activity he expressed his free speech by posting a satirical, fake ad to Craigslist in which he listed his school, Truman High, for sale. He described it as a 20+ room facility with newly built athletic fields, plenty of parking and a “bigger than normal dining room.” The posting was done with the email address of email@example.com.
The Independence School District said it considered Scheele’s ad an implied threat: Scheele wrote the school was for sale because of the “loss of students coming up.”
On Friday morning, the district chose not to change its unnecessary and unconstitutional punishment of Scheele, a graduating senior with a 3.9 GPA.
“In the hometown of U.S. President Harry Truman and in a place named after one of our nation’s key principles, ‘freedom,’ we hope that the district reconsiders its position and encourages the freedom of speech of our nation’s next generation of leaders,” said Tony Rothert, legal director, ACLU of Missouri. “There is still time for the district to do the right thing and allow Kylan to walk across that stage.”