Katie Sherman, the parent of student with multiple disabilities, has filed suit in federal court, says the Times Argus, against the Barre Supervisory Union and Barre Town School District, alleging she was improperly issued a no-trespass order from the Barre Town Middle and Elementary School grounds. Sherman’s suit states that after a dispute with school officials over her son’s individual education plan, she decided to home-school him.
The school district sent her a letter saying it understood her son would now be home-schooled. The letter also said her son could still participate in band, clubs and other extracurricular activities free of charge through eighth grade. Even though her son was now being home-schooled, Sherman said she actively pursued the due process complaint in an effort to get the school to comply with her son’s IEP so he could return to school. She contacted numerous organizations about the matter, including the Vermont Family Network (VFN).
While speaking with Martha Frank of VFN, Sherman said she made a comment out of frustration, suggesting she could understand why a man in Essex in 2006 “was pushed to the edge.” She was referring to Christopher Williams, who was convicted in 2008 of killing two teachers during a 2006 shooting spree in Essex that involved Essex Elementary School. According to her suit, Frank informed Barre Superintendent John Bacon about Sherman’s comment and Bacon contacted police. The suit states that shortly after a Barre Town officer arrived at Sherman’s home and told her to stay away from the school. Sherman said the officer told her he was acting on behalf of agents of the school.
Later that day, Sherman was issued a formal no-trespass order. Because of the order, Sherman claims, she wasn’t able to vote on Town Meeting Day or at the town’s municipal vote in May and is unable to attend school board meetings. Sherman also said the order required her to drop off or pick up her son on the roadway when he was at school.
Sherman insists she has never said anything threatening to police or anyone involved with the school, or otherwise indicate that she would be violent. She also claims the no-trespass order violates her First Amendment right to express herself and prevented her from being able to vote, arguing that violated her rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Sherman is seeking to have the no-trespass order lifted and damages for violating her rights, as well as attorney fees.
Source: Times Argus, 7/16/15, By Eric Blaisdell
[Editor’s Note: In January 2015, Legal Clips summarized an article in Vermont Today reporting that Addison Rutland Supervisory Union (ARSU) has agreed to pay $147,500 in order to settle a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont (ACLU-VT) on behalf of a parent that claimed that his First Amendment speech rights had been violated when he was banned from school district property and was, thus effectively, prevented from communicating with school board members at board meetings. In September of 2014, a federal district court ruled that ARSU violated Marcel Cyr’s right to free speech when officials barred him from attending board meetings or entering schools in the school district.]