Kansas Court to Hear ACLU Case Of Honor Student Expelled for Displaying Artwork

Affiliate: ACLU of Kansas
January 28, 2000 12:00 am

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WICHITA, KS — At a hearing this morning in Wichita, the American Civil Liberties Union will ask a federal judge to overturn the expulsion of a high school senior for displaying artwork deemed “threatening.”

ool board has said that before it will allow the honor student to return to school, she must submit to a mental heath examination and agree to be put on probation for the remainder of the school year.

Boman’s parents, who fully support their artistic daughter, have said they would rather withdraw her from school then allow officials to subject her to unnecessary and intrusive testing. The board issued its decision despite a recommendation from Sarah’s expulsion hearing officer that she be allowed to return to school immediately because there was no reasonable evidence of a threat in her art.

“When will schools learn that different does not mean dangerous?” said Dick Kurtenbach, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri. “Punishing students like Sarah Boman only perpetuates the view that intolerance of difference is permissible.”

At issue is a short poem by Boman, written from the point of view of a madman who was angry because someone had killed his dog. As with other artworks that she had created throughout her four years at Bluestem High School, Boman posted the piece on a classroom door. Shortly afterwards, the principal summoned her to his office, suspended her, and, at a subsequent hearing, expelled Boman for the remainder of the school year.

Boman said she created the artwork at the suggestion of an art professor at Bethany College, where she hopes to be accepted next fall. One of the items required for her portfolio, the professor explained, is an example of “repetitive” art in which the artist writes words in a spiral pattern.

ACLU volunteer attorneys from the law firm of Shook, Hardy and Bacon in Kansas City are representing the Boman family in this matter.

A previous news release on the matter, including both the text and the rendering of the artwork, is online at:

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