Trials & Litigation

Man banned from school board meetings wins $147K settlement

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A Vermont man banned from school board meetings for two years after he criticized the school district has agreed to a $147,500 settlement.

The settlement followed a September ruling by a federal judge that the Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union violated Marcel Cyr’s constitutional right to free speech and due process by issuing no-trespass orders that banned him from school property, according to the Associated Press. Earlier Associated Press and VT Digger stories provide additional details.

The district said some staff members were afraid of Cyr, who claimed to have a hearing loss from operating heavy equipment and spoke loudly. However, U.S. District Judge J. Garvan Murthai held in a Sept. 30 opinion provided by Leagle that less restrictive means were available to address the district’s concerns than what amounted to a blanket ban on Cyr’s speech.

In addition to violating the First Amendment, the judge said the district also violated the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to provide Cyr with notice and an opportunity for a hearing concerning the no-trespass orders.

Cyr and his wife had two children attending the Benson Village School during the time period at issue in the litigation. They repeatedly expressed concerns about the education of their son, who had been diagnosed as having a disorder on the autism spectrum, the judge notes.

Superintendent Ron Ryan said in the future the district would probably have a security officer on hand at meetings if a similar situation arises, reports the Rutland Herald (sub. req.).

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