California Student Sues School District for Suspension Over Illegal Immigration Rally

A high school student sued his school district over his suspension for distributing flyers about an off-campus rally against illegal immigration.

Joshua Denhalter, 18, a senior at Jurupa Valley High School, said he sought permission to hold the demonstration after a school assembly turned into a virtual rally supporting illegal immigrants.

School officials denied his request, saying a protest could lead to violence.

Denhalter said he tried to organize an off-campus rally in March and was suspended for three days for passing out flyers about it at the school, about 45 miles east of Los Angeles. He said he also was told he couldn't wear a T-shirt bearing an anti-illegal immigration slogan.

The lawsuit claims the district violated his free speech rights and damaged his reputation. It asks for $25,000, an apology from the district, his suspension to be erased, and for the district to acknowledge it was wrong.

The school district in a statement denied Denhalter's allegations, saying a campus forum was arranged at which all students could express their views on illegal immigration. The statement said students don't have an absolute right to free speech "when such speech incites students to break rules or substantially disrupt school operations."