Rhode Island School District Reinstates Student Suspended for English Composition

December 5, 2000 12:00 am

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JOHNSTON, RI — The Johnston School District has agreed to reinstate 11th grader Matthew Parent, who had been given a summary and indefinite suspension more than a month ago based on the content of extra-credit journal writing he submitted in his English Honors class.

“I am very pleased that Matthew is returning to school,” said ACLU volunteer attorney John W. Dineen. “The whole point of this challenge was that Matthew belonged in school, and that is where he’ll be.”

Two weeks ago, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit on Matthew’s behalf, arguing that his suspension violated his First Amendment and due process rights.

While the agreement reached today resolves the immediate issue of Matthew’s exclusion from school, the other issues in the federal suit — including correction of his school records, damages and attorneys’ fees — remain open.

A week and a half ago, a federal judge refused to order Matthew’s immediate reinstatement at an emergency court hearing, but ordered the school district to provide him a due process hearing to determine the appropriateness of the suspension. It was in the midst of that hearing today that the school district agreed to reinstate him, beginning Thursday.

To read the initial release about this case go to: /FreeSpeech/FreeSpeech.cfm?ID=8189&c=87

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