Parents sue Commerce City charter school over suspension of students following peaceful protest

The Denver Post: Parents of students attending a Commerce City charter school are suing the institution over allegations that its chief executive officer suspended more than 100 students last year after a peaceful campus protest, then barred two parents from school grounds after they reported on the incident in their Spanish-language newspaper.

Four parents and a former student filed the class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver on Tuesday, further alleging that students at Victory Preparatory Academy who used Facebook or spoke with the press to criticize the school’s response to the protest were punished by additional suspensions or asked to withdraw from the school entirely.

The lawsuit alleges “serial violations” by school administrators of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s an abuse of power,” said Iris Halpern, an attorney representing the impacted students and parents. “It’s extremely authoritarian. … Not only does it have serious implications for the students’ educational attainment, future earnings, their stability, their friendships, but what kind of message is that sending to students? They’re at a stage in their lives when they’re learning to be civic participants, and they’re learning about their rights and how to engage in society and community, and the message they get is you will have negative ramifications for that.”

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