The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri sent a letter advising Lincoln College Preparatory Academy to not punish students who participated in a silent protest on Nov. 20.

According to news stories, 12 students were given a Saturday detention for standing and holding their hands up in a sign of surrender when Governor Nixon gave a speech at their school.

“Instead of punishing students, Lincoln College Prep should applaud the students who exercised their free speech in such a respectful, peaceful and mature manner,” said Sarah Rossi, director of advocacy and policy for the ACLU of Missouri. “It took courage for them to send a message to Gov. Nixon, their teachers and classmates.”  

“The school’s action to punish students violates the First Amendment,” said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “Immediate steps must be taken to correct their wrong-doing.”

“The ACLU of Missouri is paying attention to First Amendment rights not just in the streets of Ferguson, but in schools as well,” explains Jeffrey A. Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri. “To paraphrase the Supreme Court, it is our right to speak freely and promote diversity of ideas which sets us apart from totalitarian regimes.”

Updated: Dec. 22, 2014

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.

Updated: March 2, 2015

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri secured a win for its Lincoln College Preparatory Academy clients and has dismissed the civil rights lawsuit that was filed against the Kansas City School District alleging that the District violated the students’ First Amendment rights.

On Nov. 20 at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, 14 students stood silently in the back of the auditorium and held their hands up in a sign of surrender in order to send a message to Governor Nixon. They were immediately ushered out of the auditorium, sent home and threatened with a 10-day suspension. The students were eventually told their punishment would be to serve Saturday detention and that they would have a permanent mark on their school record related to their actions.

“We are pleased that Lincoln Academy administrators agreed to withdraw the discipline of the students and remove any mention of it from their permanent records,” said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “Students do not lose their First Amendment rights when they enter a school building.”

“The students found a way to send a respectful message they knew could be unpopular with the Governor or their school,” said Jeffrey Mittman, the ACLU of Missouri’s executive director. “The ACLU is most needed at times like this because it is easy for those in positions of authority to go after messages of dissent.”


Anthony Rothert, Grant Doty, Gillian Wilcox and Andy McNulty

Date filed

January 23, 2017


United State District Court/Western District of Missouri/Western Division



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