Clark County School District agreed to pay $30,000 to a Chicago-based law firm representing a West Career and Technical Academy student who was forbidden from starting an anti-abortion club.
The Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit in August against the school and the district after 16-year-old student Angelique Clark’s application to form a pro-life club was denied for reasons the firm said violated her free-speech rights. That lawsuit was dismissed last week after the parties reached a settlement.
The $30,000 covers legal fees.
Angelique told the Review-Journal that she never wanted to file a lawsuit, but the school ignored every attempt she made to explain that the law was on her side. She said the school conceded the week she called their bluff and filed suit.
The settlement includes the official approval of Angelique’s club, agreeing that her school will treat the club the same as other noncurriculum-related clubs, and also reflects the school board’s revised policies on clubs to bring them in line with the law, the firm said in a news release Friday.
The school board adopted the revisions to its club policies in October. The revised policy states that secondary school students have equal access to conduct student-led meetings unrelated to school curriculum during noninstructional time, and will not be discriminated against on the basis of religious, political, philosophical or other speech content.
Angelique said the school also learned to apply rules evenly among all student clubs — leaders used to be able to include messages with video announcements, but after her group tried to make one, school administration limited all clubs to only giving time and location information.
Although a few of the group’s posters have been torn down, Angelique said it’s generally been successful. The club has 15 official members and more than 60 kids have signed interest forms.
“I do have a lot of support. More than push-back,” she said.
Angelique has been passionate about the issue since she was 14 years old, and despite the school’s claims that the club would alienate students who disagree, she said she encourages students who support abortion rights to join for their diverse opinions.
The teen said she’ll help any students interested in forming a pro-life club at their school.
“Never back down from administration,” she said. “It’s a misconception that students have different (First Amendment) rights than anyone else.”
Contact Wesley Juhl at email@example.com and 702-383-0391. Find him on Twitter: @WesJuhl.