Suit alleges Shawnee Mission School District violated students’ free speech during walkout

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Shawnee Mission School District is facing a lawsuit, alleging violation of students’ free speech rights during a nationwide protest of gun violence.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas filed the suit Thursday against the district.

Some students participated in a nationwide walkout protesting gun violence in April.

High school students said they were given a script for their 17-minute walkout and an associate principal took cameras away from student journalists. At the middle school, students complained their event was cut short because officials had not approved language about gun control or gun violence.

“Students should be learning about the unlawfulness of prior restraint in journalism class, not having it demonstrated by school administrators,” Lauren Bonds, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, said in a news release.

The lawsuit asks the court to prohibit violation of students’ rights.

A district spokeswoman said the district continues efforts to ensure that students’ free speech rights are respected and that they remain safe and secure.