Federal judge rejects student’s free speech suit against Georgia district over his removal as student body president
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a federal district court judge has rejected a student’s suit seeking reinstatement as student body president at Alpharetta High School. Following a bench trial, Judge Richard Story ruled that Reuben Lack failed to prove he was removed from office because he spoke up for gay rights by pushing to make the school’s prom king and queen selection more inclusive to gay and lesbian students.
School officials disagreed that Lack’s prom proposal prompted his dismissal. In support of their position, the school listed for the court 21 offenses against Lack, ranging from lack of respect for others, the fact that his fellow council members were disgruntled with his behavior, and that Lack could not follow direction. Students also testified, backing up the school’s defense.
In handing down his decision, Judge Story told Lack, “It is time to close this chapter in your life and move on.”
The school’s attorney, Todd Hatcher, declined to comment on the decision. However, Lack’s attorney, James Radford, said, “For a student to be punished because he’s a fervent advocate for what he believes in, that’s not the American way.”
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/23/12, By David Ibata and Bill Rankin, staff writer
[Editor's Note: In April 2012, Legal Clips summarized Judge Story's March 30, 2012 ruling in Lack v. Kersey, denying Lack's motion for a temporary restraining order that would have reinstated Lack as student body president, and agreeing with the school district that Lack had been removed from office for non-speech reasons.]