Removed for Trump-quoting shirt, Hillsboro student sues school
HILLSBORO, Ore. – A high school student is suing the Hillsboro School District after staff at Liberty High School sent him home for wearing a shirt with a President Trump slogan on it, claiming that the school was suppressing his First Amendment rights to free speech.
The lawsuit, filed Friday, states school officials told the student to cover up his “border wall” shirt because the idea and message offended students and staff members. They later sent him home.
The student wore the shirt to his “People and Politics” class during a discussion on immigration. The shirt said “Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co.” and “The Wall Just Got 10 Feet Taller,” a statement Trump made on the campaign trail.
Trump has continued to advocate for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border even amid logistical and budgetary questions about its feasibility. Opponents cast the proposal as contrary to the central role of immigrants in U.S. history and culture, while proponents call it a necessary deterrent to illegal immigration and smuggling.
In the suit, the student claims the school's vice principal took him out of the class and told him to cover the shirt, saying "at least one other student and a teacher claimed the shirt offended them."
The student said he complied, but during the class decided "he believed that the First Amendment protected his right to peacefully express his political views in school" and once again displayed his shirt. The lawsuit claims a school security guard removed him from the class and he was "threatened with suspension for 'defiance.'"
He was told he could cover the shirt or go home, and he chose the latter. School officials treated his absence as a suspension.
Officials at Liberty High School, about 40 minutes outside of Portland, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.
The case's subject matter isn't its only political facet: One of Barnes' lawyers, Mike McLane, is also the leader of the Republican minority in Oregon's House of Representatives.
McLane did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.
The Liberty High School student handbook, posted on the school's website, includes a rule that "only appropriate sayings or pictures are acceptable" on students' clothes, but mentions no specifics.