A senior at Truman High School who was banned from his graduation ceremony for a prank lost a last-minute effort in federal court to reverse school officials’ decision.
Now, Kylan Scheele is hoping officials in the Independence School District will change their minds less than 24 hours before the ceremony, which is set for 11 a.m. Saturday.
“He’s disappointed, he really is,” said Scheele’s mother, Denetra Clark.
The American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of Scheele, filed a lawsuit against the Independence School District in federal court in Kansas City earlier this week, arguing his free speech and due process rights were violated.
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On Friday, a judge heard from attorneys from the ACLU and Independence schools to rule on an emergency injunction request that would have allowed Scheele to walk at graduation, Clark said. The judge ruled in the district’s favor.
As a joke, Scheele, 18, listed Truman High for sale on Craigslist at the bargain basement price of $12,725.
“I wanted to list it really low because people search low to high and I wanted it to be the first thing to pop up,” Scheele said.
ACLU officials claim the 18-year-old’s free speech rights were violated when he was suspended for three days and denied participation in the graduation ceremony.
It was Scheele’s choice of words that got him in trouble. His post also said, “The reason for the sale is due to the loss of students coming up.” The “loss” referred to the students who would be graduating.
But district officials said that in a climate of frequent school shootings, they and some parents perceived the post as a threat. It was a parent who told Independence police he was looking at used baseball equipment when a picture of Truman High School for sale popped up.
But the ACLU contended in the lawsuit that “no reasonable person” would interpret “the satirical ad as a threat of mass murder.”
On Thursday, the ACLU sent a letter to Independence Superintendent Dale Herl urging the district to reconsider its decision.
The letter called the district’s interpretation of Scheele’s senior prank “unreasonable.”
But Friday the district declined to change its decision, despite the urging of Scheele’s family, a petition — “Let Kylan Scheele walk with his class at graduation” signed by more than 2,600 supporters — and the insistence of the ACLU.
“The advertisement created a substantial and material disruption of the educational environment, and the Independence School District stands by its decision,” the district said in a statement. “The clear substantial and material disruption served as the basis for the suspension. We take student safety very seriously and appreciate the students and parents who brought these incidents to our attention. “
Scheele, who has a 3.9 GPA, still hopes he will get to walk with his classmates at graduation, even after the Friday ruling in his school district’s favor.
His mother is also hoping the district will still reverse course.
“He can’t even go sit in the audience to go support his friends,” Clark said. “We’re holding out hope that they’ll show some compassion.”