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Alpharetta High Student Loses First Round in Suit to Regain Presidency

A federal judge ruled Reuben Lack engaged in his own causes, but was disrespectful to faculty advisors and failed to complete required tasks of the position.

Reuben Lack still won't be Alpharetta High's student body president when Spring Break is over in another week. A federal judge ruled on March 30 against a motion for a temporary order to reinstate him to the position he lost earlier this year.

U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story ruled against him, but his attorney, James Radford, said that was just the first step in the lawsuit seeking temporary relief. He and his client plan to continue with the lawsuit.

Lack's suit claims his First Amendment rights were violated by his removal, citing reasons he was given by his faculty advisors.

Judge Story found Lack's Facebook post saying Principal Shannon Kersey shot down a proposal was protected, as was a speech to incoming freshmen that asked them to get involved in student activities, including the debate club he captained.

"Lack has shown that Defendants were subjectively motivated to take the adverse action because of Plaintiff’s protected speech," the Judge said in his ruling.

Judge Story also wrote in his ruling, "The Court also finds that Plaintiff’s speech was a motivating factor in Defendants’ decision to remove him as President."

But Judge Story also noted that the school said that Lack did not attend Homecoming Decoration day, wear spirit-week attire or sell Homecoming tickets even though he sent email reminding other Student Council members of their duty to do so,and he had agreed to complete those tasks.

He also continued to schedule council meetings in the afternoon even after being told they would be held in the morning before school so student-athlete members could attend.

"Essentially, the Court finds that Plaintiff is a bright student who is “aggressively” engaged in his causes–as his counsel pointed out at the hearing–but he did not show respect or civility to his faculty advisors or complete traditional Student Council “spirit” tasks, which, under the bylaws, he had an obligation to help carry out, regardless of his interest level," Judge Story said in his ruling rejecting the temporary restraining order.

Ashley Diaz March 31, 2012 at 12:30 PM
I would really like to know who has all this extra money to spend on a lawyer for their kid's bad behavior. When my child gets reprimanded by authority, I support the authority's decision. Allowing him to waste his parents' money on a lawyer and the state's money on the court case is not going to teach him to "Stand up for his rights," but rather to always question authority and its decisions. This whole situation will be very detrimental to him.
Marcus March 31, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Perhaps you did not read the story or the court ruling. The court DID find that the school violated his constitutional rights. The order was denied primarily due to the fact that unsworn statements by the school were accepted at face value and submitted to the court only a couple hours before the hearing. While the student gave actual sworn testimony and faced cross examination , the school kept their staff from facing cross examination. They won't have such luxury going forward. The mere fact that the Court ruled that the teachers and Principal violated the law in punishing the student for private off campus Facebook communications is huge. The school will lose this in the end.
XPR April 01, 2012 at 02:36 AM
What if he was doing a poor job and just happened that one of his proposals was on a sensitive topic? Sometimes it is possible to lose perspective and try to find an excuse for something that is justified. I'm surprised that the media hasn't picked up on the coverage from an Alabama blogger who originally did like many and rushed to judge. Then after some homework which included comments posted from the kid's dad and brother, he came to a more likely scenario - http://www.osborneink.com/2012/03/reuben-lacks-lawsuit-is-not-about-gay-rights-at-the-alpharetta-prom.html
Lee April 02, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Be a big boy Rueben and face the consequences of your actions. End of story.

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