Public sidewalks surrounding schools in one Pennsylvania district are open to free speech, school administrators clarified after an assistant principal demanded pro-life students "shut up."
"No government employee -- especially someone with authority over students -- should harass or threaten anyone for exercising their First Amendment protected freedoms in public," said Kevin Theriot, an attorney at Alliance Defending Freedom.
In the Downingtown Area School District this past April, Zach Ruff -- a vice principal of student life (shown in the image at the top of this article and also in the video below) -- tried to stop pro-life teens Conner and Lauren Haines from holding up pro-life signs and talking to people who passed by the Downingtown STEM Academy.
Alleged video footage of the incident indicates that Ruff told the teens about aborted babies, "You can go to hell where they are, too. They're not children. They're cells."
Watch the shocking video of his vulgar and demeaning comments below:
The school district reached a settlement with the teens, who were not students of that particular school; officials admitted Ruff's actions were wrong and said his views did not represent those of the district.
"You had every right under our Constitution's First Amendment to speak and display signs like you did, and that right was violated by Dr. Ruff," Superintendent of Schools Emilie Lonardi wrote to the teenagers in a letter this month.
Ruff, at first put on administrative leave by the school, has since resigned, according to media reports.
(photo credit, homepage image: Brian Stansberry, Wikimedia)