Wyandotte & Leavenworth

Group accuses Bonner Springs school of free speech violation

Updated: 2013-12-03T01:46:02Z

The Associated Press

An Arizona group has filed a federal lawsuit accusing a Bonner Springs middle school of violating a student’s First Amendment rights by prohibiting the student from handing out fliers promoting a prayer event.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian group that advocates for religious rights, contends a counselor at Robert E. Clark Middle School violated the student’s rights to free speech and equal protection by refusing to allow the student to post fliers promoting the Sept. 25 “See You at the Pole” event, a national event in which teens pray around their school flagpoles.

The lawsuit was filed last week in Kansas City, Kan. It contends the counselor told the student that the fliers, which contained Bible verses, could not be posted or distributed at school because of their religious content. The group also said the district has a policy banning distribution of religious materials on school grounds but allows other types of materials to be posted and distributed.

The lawsuit described the episode as “viewpoint discrimination, which is unconstitutional in any type of form.”

Dan Brungardt, superintendent for the Bonner Springs/Edwardsville schools, said Monday he had not seen or heard about the lawsuit. He also said the district had not received any complaints from parents or students regarding the posting of fliers before the prayer event.

Brungardt said the event was announced over the school’s intercom system.

“We can’t encourage students to go, but we did announce it,” Brungardt said.

The district has a policy prohibiting distribution of religious materials because “different entities request to distribute information to students constantly. If all entities who requested were allowed, it would be disruptive to the school environment,” Brungardt said in an email.

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