School settles lawsuit over student’s expulsion for photo with gun

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HUNTSVILLE, Ark. — An Arkansas school district will be handing over thousands of dollars to settle a lawsuit surrounding an expulsion that one student said violated his First Amendment rights, according to KFSM.

The Huntsville School District approved paying more than $40,000 to settle a federal lawsuit over the student’s complaint that removing him from school because of a photo of himself holding a gun was a violation of his freedom of speech.

The settlement agreement released Monday shows that the district voted Jan. 28 to pay Kylan Pierce, and his mother, Jessica McKinney, $42,665 to settle the lawsuit.

Pierce, a junior, must still serve a 365-day suspension from Huntsville High School.

His ability to attend online classes within the district was unaffected, according to the agreement.

In February 2018, ten days after a man opened fire in a Florida high school and killed 17 students and teachers, Pierce posted a photo of himself wearing a trench coat and holding an assault rifle on Instagram.

The district expelled Pierce a month later, saying students couldn’t use threats, intimidation or fear to disrupt any school mission.

Pierce later sued the district, arguing his freedom of speech was violated by being expelled.

The district maintained in the agreement that it did nothing wrong and that its policies do not violate the U.S. Constitution.

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