Proposed by Admin1 on Thu, 09/16/2021 – 22:03
Cancellation of 9/11 event raises allegation of civil rights violation
by Nick Wognum
An organization with conservative political leanings is threatening legal action against the Ely school district, alleging a violation of civil rights and accusing the district of engaging in “unconstitutional discrimination of point of view.”
Earlier this week, a lawyer for the Young America’s Foundation served notice in a letter to Superintendent Erik Erie.
Steven Mairella, the organization’s deputy general counsel, wrote that the school district’s cancellation of a 9/11 commemorative event linked to his group “violated the civil rights not only of YAF but of the students at your school.”
Mairella said the organization would take legal action unless the district “issues a public apology to YAF and the students who intended to participate in the 9-11 Never Forget project” in print and social media, and ” creates clear and constitutionally consistent guidelines to prevent future abuse by school officials.
While the planned event on the school campus was canceled on September 8, the school distanced itself from the YAF almost a week earlier, pulling a promotional advertisement identifying the group by name.
YAF is led by former Wisconson Governor Scott Walker and promotes itself as “the conservative movement’s premier outreach organization,” while “committed to ensuring that a growing number of young Americans understand and be inspired by ideas of individual freedom, a strong national force. defense, free enterprise and traditional values.
High school student council president Micah Larson approached school officials about two weeks ago to organize a 9/11 memorial and plans were in place for an event to be held at the stadium. school baseball.
The school initially agreed, then demanded that the affiliation with YAF be removed.
This request was unconstitutional and in violation of the First Amendment, according to Mairella.
Mairella cited comments from Erie’s diaries in which the superintendent said that YAF “is a very political organization” and that the school decided to end the affiliation due to “political ramifications”.
Mairella wrote: “Viewpoint discrimination is a blatant form of content discrimination. The government should refrain from regulating speech when the specific motivating ideology or the speaker’s option or perspective is the rational for the restriction.
“School officials are not free to simply remove expressions with which they do not agree to avoid the discomfort or controversy resulting from that expression, especially when those opinions are protected political speech like this. that YAF and the students expected. “
YAF demanded that the school district preserve all documents, text messages and other messages related to the cancellation, and filed a “separate and distinct” Freedom of Information Act request for its threat of prosecution. judicial.
Erie addressed the cancellation during public remarks (see related article) at Monday’s board meeting, acknowledging the backlash and controversy over the district’s decision to cancel the event.
Erie admitted that the district’s reaction “has led to an animosity for which we have to take some responsibility.”