The deposed Alpharetta High student body president had his first day in court and lost.
A federal judge Friday ruled against an Alpharetta High School senior who claims he was ousted as student body president for pushing to make the school’s prom king and queen selection more inclusive to gay and lesbian students.
Reuben Lack, an honor student and debate team captain, filed a federal lawsuit that alleges his removal as president violated his rights of free speech and expression. In a 12-page order, U.S. District Judge Richard Story denied Lack’s request to be reinstated as student body president. The judge commended Lack for championing the inclusion of all students in school activities and his “zeal to change policy.” Story also expressed concern over the timing of Lack’s removal — a month after his prom idea became an issue.
But Story said he found evidence supporting a conclusion that Lack was removed for other reasons. These include his failure to send an email about a class president’s meeting after being told to do so by advisers and his failure to attend the meeting the next day.
“Essentially, the court finds that [Lack] is a bright student who ‘aggressively’ engaged in his causes … but he did not show respect or civility to his faculty advisers or complete traditional student council ’spirit’ tasks, which, under the bylaws, he had an obligation to help carry out, regardless of his interest level,” Story wrote.
On Friday, Lack’s lawyer, James Radford, said he had asked for immediate reinstatement before he could take testimony of all those involved, which he will do next in the ongoing litigation. “We look forward to continuing the fight,” he said.
Lack seeks damages against the Fulton County school system, Alpharetta High’s principal and two student advisers. The suit said the incident caused Lack “great emotional distress,” deprived him of an honor he worked hard to achieve, threatened his admission to the college of his choice and denied him the right to address students at graduation.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog