Judge orders KC area bloggers back to school

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered two Kansas City area high school students to return to the school that suspended them over what officials considered offensive blog posts.

Senior U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs issued a preliminary injunction Thursday, halting the remaining 69 days of the students’ 180-day suspensions from Lee’s Summit North High School, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/GIbjTC ).

Sachs said the teens’ interest in returning to their school outweighed the district’s concerns. The judge cautioned that he was not deciding the merits of the case, which would include rulings on whether the district had violated the boys’ rights to freedom of speech and due process.

If the court rules in favor of the school district at the end of the case, the teens would have to finish serving their suspensions.

Jessica Bernard, a lawyer representing the school district, declined comment, saying she needed to speak with the school board about possible appeals of the judge’s injunction.

The 17-year-old high school juniors, who are twins, haven’t been identified in court documents because they’re minors.

The school suspended the teens in December after they posted what it considered sexually offensive and racially insensitive remarks on their website.

Their parents sued the district, arguing that their sons’ classes at the alternative high school they were sent to during their suspensions were not academically rewarding. They also argued that the boys would miss the opportunity to try out for leadership positions with the school’s marching band and drum line.

In testimony, the boys said they had hoped that the website, which they saw as a place for high school-related satire and sarcasm, would be read only by a handful of close friends.

Sachs said he found some of the blog postings “shocking and obscene” and “grossly offensive.” But he said he doubted that when the twins return to school April 9 there will be “any material disturbance” beyond “some stares or dirty looks.”

The twins’ lawyer, Kevin Weakley, said his clients were “thrilled” to return to their school.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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