A Shawnee Mission middle school administrator mentioned in a free-speech lawsuit against the district has resigned and taken a job leading a proposed new charter school in Kansas City.
Alisha Gripp, an associate principal at Hocker Grove Middle School, submitted her resignation at a school board meeting this week. It took effect Friday, June 30.
Gripp could not immediately be reached for comment.
Shawna Samuels, district spokeswoman, said she did not know why Gripp resigned. But she said "it would be a huge leap" to connect the resignation to the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed in May on behalf of students who claimed school leaders violated their First Amendment rights during an April 20 walkout and anti-gun violence rally.
The suit claims Gripp unnecessarily reprimanded students and "confiscated the written remarks of another scheduled speaker because they mentioned gun control."
On LinkedIn, Gripp said she is now "Founding Principal" at the planned middle school for Citizens of the World Charter Schools in Kansas City. The schools' executive director, Kristin Droege, said Friday that Gripp was hired in May after a six-month search. Gripp starts with the charter this summer to plan for a middle school that Droege expects to open in fall 2019.
Gripp had worked in the Shawnee Mission district for four years.
The April school rally was part of the student-led National School Walkout Day. After the rally, students at Hocker Grove and Shawnee Mission North High School complained to administrators and later the ACLU that school leaders told them what they could and could not say. Students said their 17-minute event, which school officials had previously approved, was cut short when students began talking about gun control and gun violence.
The district launched an investigation and apologized for anything that might have censored students. Then last month the ACLU sued the district.
Among the administrators named, the lawsuit said, "Alisha Gripp began to interfere with students’ speeches after the second speaker cited a statistic that there had been 19 school shootings in the previous year." It said Gripp told students "we would have more shooters who were women, queer, transgender, and people of color if bullying caused school shootings.”
The suit also says, "Gripp informed students, 'No shootings, no deaths. If you can’t comply with the rules, you’ll be removed.' "
ACLU officials declined to comment on the resignation. Mark McCormick, a spokesman for the ACLU, said there has been no movement on the lawsuit.