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Lawsuit Filed Against Pocono Mountain School District

By Kyle Andersen
Published On: Aug 18 2011 10:43:18 AM CDT
Updated On: Mar 08 2011 03:35:47 AM CST
CRESCO, Pa. -

A federal lawsuit has been filed against the Pocono Mountain School District for violating a student's constitutional rights.

The lawsuit was filed by a Michael Ayers on behalf of a minor identified only as "K.A." on Friday. The suit alleges that the district violated K.A.'s First and Fourteen Amendment rights by not permitting her to distribute a "religious" flyer at Barrett Elementary Center, where she went to school. The flyer was an invitation to members of the student body to a Christmas party sponsored by K.A.'s church.

K.A. had to turn the flyer into the principal for approval, who in turn had the superintendent look at it, because he claimed it was religious in nature. The superintendent rejected the request based on District Policy 913.

District Policy 913 states, in part that "Any requests from civic organizations or special interest groups...must be examined to insure that such activities promote student interests primarily, rather than the special interests of any particular group" and that " No individual, firm or corporation shall be permitted to engage in commercial advertising, promotion, solicitation or sales with regard to the student body, faculty, staff or the public on school district property or at any school sponsored activities unless the same shall have been previously approved in writing by the District."

It further claims that another part of the school code, that was not used in this instance by the district, restricts K.A.'s rights. That is District Code 220, which prohibits expression that "seek(s) to establish the supremacy of a particular religious denomination, sect or point of view."

To see a copy of the district policies, including 220 and 913, click here.

The lawsuit claims that the flyer was prohibited "solely because of the religious nature of the message". The lawsuit also claims that the school usually allows flyers and other invitations to be distributed either student-to-student during non-instructional time or through a take-home flyer forum that distributes such flyers through the student body.

Pocono Mountain School District says that they cannot comment on ongoing litigation.