An attorney with the ACLU of Kansas said Tuesday a settlement was reached in the First Amendment lawsuit filed against Shawnee Mission School District after administrators undermined students engaging in an anti-gun violence rally and interfered with student news coverage of the event.
Lauren Bonds, legal director and interim executive director of the ACLU of Kansas, said the school district agreed to adopt new policy related to non-school sponsored events.
"We’re pleased about school district measures to ensure future students will not have their free speech rights violated at school," Bonds said.
Details of the settlement won't be disclosed until the federal judge approves the deal arising from controversy about National Student Walkout Day last April at Shawnee Mission North High School and Hocker Grove Middle School.
The ACLU suit alleged actions of school officials were calculated to "avoid controversy and discomfort," resulting in an unconstitutional prohibition on student expression. In the suit, the ACLU sought a court mandate the district develop training programs for administrators and teachers about student free-speech rights.
In September, Shawnee Mission School District attempted to have claims of three students dismissed.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson ruled that the case could continue. A trial had been scheduled for December.
The ACLU said the lawsuit was part of a legal battle about student speech and press rights. The students claimed the district-permitted walkout and rally was tainted when school officials forbid debate about gun violence and attempts to document the event as student journalists, but district officials indicated their objective was to keep students safe.