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Thu October 18, 2012
Lee’s Summit Student Website Ruling Reversed
A Kansas City federal judge has been directed to make another attempt at settling a dispute between the Lee’s Summit School District and two students suspended after a blog caused a furor. A federal appeals panel has rejected a preliminary injunction against the 180 day suspensions of twin brothers.
Court documents detail how Steven and Scott Wilson used a computer at Lee’s Summit North High School to upload files to set up a website. They used a Dutch domain, preventing U.S. users from finding their site called NorthPress site through a Google search.
There is a dispute over how much school computers were used.
During an earlier Kansas City federal court hearing there was testimony of disruptions at school over allegedly racist comments in a blog post and sexually explicit comments about named female students.
The Wilsons' claimed first amendment rights violation when ordered out of school.
Now a panel of 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges has found the District judge improperly ruled against the School District, essentially upholding the suspensions.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri signed on to the case. Doug Bonney is the legal director for the group.
“Our involvement at the ACLU was to try to get the 8th Circuit to take a more student rights position. They didn’t do it but they didn’t change existing law much either,” says Bonney.
The Wilson brothers have until end of the month to ask for a hearing before the full 8th Circuit. Ultimately, Kansas City District Judge Howard Sachs may have to decide how to resolve the dispute.