SALINE, Mich. (WXYZ) — Saline students suspended after being accused of making racist posts on Snapchat are now suing the school district.
A letter from the four students' attorney said that their suspensions violated their constitutional rights to "due process and free speech."
“The school is acting outside the scope of its authority," said David A. Kallman, attorney for the four students and their parents. "(The school) has no legal right to impose the discipline carried out, and has violated
our clients’ constitutional rights by their reckless and hasty rush to judgment.”
The students were suspended from Saline High School after racist messages shared in a private Snapchat surfaced. The school district condemned the posts in a letter sent to parents in January.
"Hate, prejudice and racism have no place in our schools or our community," Superintendent Scot Graden said.
Since then, two of the students have returned to classes, while the other two may be facing expulsion, according to their attorney. The incident also spiraled into a national controversy after a meeting for diversity and acceptance was held with parents in the district and one parent asked another parent "why he didn’t stay in Mexico?”
That response received backlash and resulted in a rally by students and community members for more diversity in the town, as well as city officials holding town halls to discuss the lack of diversity in the school district.
Kallman, the attorney representing the suspended students, claims "offensive language" was used in a "joking manner" on Snapchat between African American and Caucasian students, calling it "immature banter among friends." Kallman adds that the conversation did not occur on school grounds, which is why his clients believe the school has overstepped authority.
"The conversation of these children had nothing to do with the school," a letter from the students' attorney reads. "It has no authority to discipline students for out of school misbehavior."