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ACLU sues San Diego school district over nixing political messages on benches

May 16, 2011 |  2:58 pm

Benches at La Jolla High School with messages that the principal found unacceptable. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Monday against the San Diego school district in a dispute over school officials removing messages that students had painted on benches that criticized  the government of Iran.

The ACLU wants school officials to relinquish their authority to remove messages they consider inappropriate. After an exchange of letters by lawyers, the San Diego Unified School District, in effect, declined the ACLU request.

At issue are benches at La Jolla High School where students have traditionally been allowed to paint messages. In February, students painted messages "Freedom for Iran" and "Down with dictator."

The school principal had the messages painted over and declared that messages should be restricted to those involving school spirit and activities and that all messages have to be approved by the administration. The ACLU asserts that this violates the state education code.

"La Jolla High should be celebrating the commitment of its students to freedom and democracy, not clamping down on it," said David Blair-Loy, legal director of the San Diego ACLU.

The lawsuit was filed in San Diego County Superior Court.

RELATED:

'Freedom for Iran' slogan painted over at La Jolla High

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Benches at La Jolla High School with messages that the principal found unacceptable. Credit: KGTV-San Diego

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