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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.

S L D March 22, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Alpharetta HS: you are fighting the wrong battle. Be inclusive and join the rest of us in the 21st century.
Lisa March 22, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Community organizer in training. Advocating for bigger government entitlements and more. So glad that he thinks I should pay for his napkins, utensils, and more.
TxBearCub March 23, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Really? you think that is advocating bigger government? for napkins? I guess if you go to any restaurant and they ask you to pay for napkins and utensils, you would be OK with that?
Remy Devereaux March 23, 2012 at 12:41 AM
BOOOO Alpharetta High School..High School should be a place of learning and preparing young minds for the world, not teaching them intollerance, hatred, bigotry and inequality...you sorely missed the mark by removing this young man simply for making a statement that people, regardless of their sexual orientation should be considered equal. This is not the 1960's anymore but I suspect if it were, and this young man suggested races other than white be considered for your homecoming court you would have reacted the same...shame on you but Horray for Reuben, I can only hope he is successful and those involved in his removal are fired from their jobs.
Em March 23, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Actually, that was the rule that the administration put in place. He reversed the rule so now, because of him we no longer have to pay for utensils. i can see why you were confused though, the wording is unclear.
S L D March 23, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Troll
Julie Waugh March 23, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Come on Alpharetta! You have a bad track record lately for being closed minded. Reinstate the kid.
T March 23, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Huh? Prom King and Queen are voted for independently. It's already sexuality-neutral. Heck, my high school's Prom King and Queen were brother and sister (at the neighboring Northview High, nonetheless!). Prom nominees bring their own dates, and according to a 1980 court decision (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fricke_v._Lynch), public schools must allow same-sex dates. Sounds like this kid got kicked out for other reasons, such as attacking the principal as the article mentions.
Bill Thomas March 23, 2012 at 02:47 AM
It is unfortunate Mr. Pepalis wrote and published this article while only telling one side. There is quite a bit more to this situation than is being represented here. Hopefully; the behavior of young Mr. Lack regarding not attending meetings, his interactions with other students, his disrespect for faculty members and other unpleasant exchanges will, at some point, be published by The Patch. However, I would not count on this based on the treatment of other issues which have been reported upon by this paper. Objectivity by this paper is not a strong suit. I have a senior at AHS who has been very involved in the Student Government matter as well as several neighbors’ students’ who have been working on this all year. A little more time and research would have produced a better quality and more accurate article.
JB March 23, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Thank you "T" and Mr. Thomas!!!
No Name March 23, 2012 at 05:03 AM
The Entitlement Generation. Someone needs to enroll that young man in Econ 101 so he can learn TNSTAAFL.
No Name March 23, 2012 at 05:06 AM
Does AHS "tolerate" Christians? Just curious.
Bart Taninger March 23, 2012 at 11:32 AM
There's a way around this. Vote a guy for prom queen, and a girl for prom king. That will shake them up!
Mark March 23, 2012 at 02:25 PM
The prom king and queen issue is almost irrelevant. The school removed him from his position as student council president purely because of his beliefs. That is the issue. The school administration could have easily rejected the proposal without removing him as president.
Bob Pepalis (Editor) March 23, 2012 at 02:27 PM
I would welcome more views on this issue. The Fulton School system's spokesperson has not replied, and the principal has said she cannot comment because it is in litigation. I can be contacted at bob.pepalis@patch.com or at 678-451-8995.
JB March 23, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Actually, I heard that the school system has released a statement explaining why the student was removed. Mr. P, perhaps you should contact the communications person for this data AND post that as well. It appears this student was removed because of his performance, as well as negative interactions with other students. It would appear the student and family are reacting to this consequence with rage and vengeance. Ummm....has anyone noticed that the ACLU has NO INTEREST in this one?? Usually because it's NOT true! My guess is that the kid/parents, along with a sleazy attorney, decided to create a scandal. The LGBT folks should be angry that he destroys the credibility of the LGBT progress. While I get annoyed that Mr. P does not always verify what he posts, I will give him credit for having a heart... at face value, this would be a good story (IF it were true)... and, he was NOT one of the soulless media-mongers who has been physically chasing down STUDENTS to get statements to be distorted and twisted. These are KIDS, for pete's sake. Thank you for having that ethical boundry Mr. P!!! =)
Bob Pepalis (Editor) March 23, 2012 at 03:17 PM
JB, I've called and emailed the Fulton County Schools' Communications office to see if they have released a statement, and to get a copy of it. Thank you for this tip. I did asked Susan Hale and Principal Kersey via email why he was removed before posting the article, but they did not answer my questions.
Lisa March 23, 2012 at 03:21 PM
If I go to a restaurant I use my own money not the taxpayer's money. If I don't like how they do or don't charge for napkins and utensils I can go somewhere else. So it's my money and my choice. I would prefer if these students brought their own lunch and drinks. I don't believe we need to be providing the daycare facilities that government schools have become.
Lisa March 23, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Bill, thanks for your comment. You have offered insight where there seemed to be only one side to this article.
Travis Allen March 23, 2012 at 07:13 PM
http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/03/23/alpharetta-teen-says-he-was-ousted-from-student-presidency-for-suggesting-a-gay-friendly-prom/
Alpharetta student March 23, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Everyone on this blog who Isn't affiliated with alpharetta high school shut the hell up, as you are ignorantly speaking on a matter in which you are blatantly misinformed on.
Alpharetta student March 23, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I as well as the rest of the student body knows that this case has NO legitimacy. As all of the allegations are false
S L D March 23, 2012 at 10:36 PM
It must be a difficult time for the students at AHS having your named dragged through the mud, and this article hasn't helped the situation. I apologize for believing what I read here. I must say though that I wish you would find a more constructive way to express your frustration that to tell commenters to "shut the hell up."
Alpharetta student March 24, 2012 at 05:28 AM
I apologize for the profanity. We are one of the top ranking schools in Georgia and the United States and I find it very unsettling that a false allegation such as this court case can tarnish our school's reputation. In addition our school is very accepting to gays and lesbians; there are many openly gay people in our school who receive no different treatment than anyone else. Therefore, these comments we have been getting from People about out miniscule acceptance level is highly inaccurate. The fact that Rueben is sueing our school for reinstatement is absurd!! WE HAVE A MONTH AND A HALF LEFT OF SCHOOL!!!! I find it selfish of him to act as a great "crusader" for gays and lesbians just to treat it as a scapegoat for more of a corroborating allegation. He has not only put stress on our great teachers and administrators but also they have started to receive hate mail...HATE MAIL!!! Many of these teachers have young children regardless of the mildness of the letters they have something to be scared and cautious about. Reuben has belittled teachers and administrators, infuriated students, and turned his back on his Friends with lies and I find it disheartening that he is willing to tear a school family apart for his limelight and pride.
Travis Allen March 26, 2012 at 03:40 PM
http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/lawsuit-student-body-president-removed-over-gay-prom-184454366--abc-news.html Hope all you students appreciate all the awful things people are saying because of your former student body president and because they either do not have all the facts or have not read the entire story and all associated updates.
No Name March 26, 2012 at 07:04 PM
This corroborates with what I've heard from other AHS students.
Former AHS Student March 27, 2012 at 03:21 AM
I am a former AHS student, and, based on the article and all of the comments (especially those from current students), I feel that Reuben should not be going to the lengths he is going to, as his actions seem to mostly just be doing harm. High school is hard enough as it is, and it is in poor taste for Reuben to cause such disharmony and take such little responsibility for his own litany of mistakes. In my opinion, it'd be for the best if he just dropped the lawsuit and allowed the healing process to begin at AHS.

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