UPDATED: Fulton Schools Says Student Didn't Lose Presidency Over Gay Rights
Reuben Lack says he was removed by student council sponsors after he made a proposal supporting gay students, but the school system is saying he failed in his responsibilities.
UPDATED 2 P.M., March 23: Samantha Evans of the Fulton County Schools system, sent a statement refuting the student's claim, plus a letter to his attorney.
Alpharetta High student Reuben Lack sued the school system and his school's principal and sponsors for removing him as student body president. He claims it stems from his promotion of a policy to allow same sex couples participate in Prom Court. But the school system says that's not the case and that he failed to complete his responsibilities.
"We’ve taken a look at what the individual is alleging and it’s just not the case. The district is confident that as the details surface through the legal process they will support that. The principal and teachers at Alpharetta High were very careful to take great care and be fair to all students involved when making the leadership change for this student body position," Evans said in her statement for the school system.
Reuben Lack, who was elected student body president by his classmates, first made the proposal to modify AHS’s “Prom King and Queen” tradition to include gay and lesbian students at a student council meeting on Jan. 12, according to the complaint filed by his attorney, James Radford.
When the student council sponsor told them to stop discussion about the idea, Lack moved to table it so they could return to the idea at a later meeting. He renewed his proposal at the Jan. 26 meeting, and the sponsor again objected and said there would be no vote on it.
Lack says on Feb. 8 the student council sponsors told him he was being removed as student body president.
He said he was told this was because he attacked the school's principal, encouraged incoming freshmen to join the debate team he captained and other reasons, "all of which were knowingly false," the complaint states.
Fulton Schools refutes that claim.
"This student was relieved from his position because he failed to complete his responsibilities according to set bylaws, nothing more. We assure you that no one at Alpharetta High School has made any decision that would be considered biased or prejudiced," Evans' statement said.
Evans said look to those 16 points listed in Lack's complaint as reasons he lost his position, particularly 2-16
Below is a summary of the school system's response dated March 20, and received March 23 by Alpharetta-Milton Patch:
Reuben Lack was the student body president at Alpharetta High School. On February 8, after several attempts to redirect the student, he was removed as student body president by the two faculty advisors as permitted by the By Laws. The adult student and parent were extremely and vocally upset by this decision.
The student was essentially a poor leader. He behaved in manner not becoming of student body president including but not limited to rescheduling meetings with little notice, directly going against the instructions of the faculty advisors, calling out students on social media for not siding with him on votes/issues, not participating in school council functions, and misrepresenting the status of projects.
The student claims this was based on a proposal he made about changing prom king/queen procedures, despite the fact that this proposal was tabled by all of his peers on student council.
“We have a great principal and staff in place and I am confident in the way that they’ve handled this situation,” Superintendent Robert Avossa said. "It is unfortunate that this matter is being tried in the court of public perception. The facts about this allegation will be revealed completely through the legal process."
Lack, his family and his attorney met with the principal, and the complaint says she refused to reinstate him as student body president.
"The evidence will show that Reuben was punished for exercising his right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution," Radford said in his online blog.
Alpharetta High Principal Shannon Kersey said she could not comment because the issue is in litigation.
Lack, a member of the school's debate team, also was removed from his position on the school's Local School Advisory Committee (LSAC). He is a member of the Fulton Youth Advisory Council and attends meetings of the Fulton County Commission as a student ambassador.
He successfully lobbied to change school policy that had required students to pay for napkins and utensils in the school cafeteria. And in his role as debate team captain, he moderated a debate by Alpharetta mayoral candidates earlier in the school year.