INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (CN) — A senior at Truman High School in Harry Truman’s home town sued the Independence School District for barring him from the graduation ceremony because he posted a satirical ad on Craigslist offering the school for sale for $12,725.
Kylan Scheele says he posted the ad on May 18, at the end of his penultimate school week this year, as a senior prank. Represented in federal court by the ACLU, he claims, “The senior prank of posting an advertisement for the sale of one’s high school on Craigslist is quite common and appears never to have caused a substantial or material disruption in any other school district in the country.”
A copy of the ad is shown on Page 3 of the 6-page complaint. Underneath the photo, and the sale price, the description of the property includes: “Centralized air, heating, plumbing. Next to Walmart for convenience. Huge parking lot, great for partygoers looking for somewhere to park. Bigger than normal dining room. …”
Scheele adds that “the satirical ad contained no threat,” and that “no reasonable person” would believe that it would cause disruption at the school.
Nonetheless, four days after he posted the ad, “some employees of defendant unreasonably construed the satirical ad as a threat to kill students.”
Scheele said he had never been disciplined in his four years at Truman High and maintained a 3.9 grade point average. And though the school district “fully understands that those who interpreted the satirical ad as a threat of mass murder were mistaken, defendant is unwilling to admit its mistake or reconsider its punishment of plaintiff.”
None of the parties to the lawsuit could be reached for comment over the Memorial Day weekend. According to the latest reporting on the incident, Scheele was not allowed to walk with his classmates during the Saturday graduation ceremony, though he was allowed to graduate.
Scheele, 18, acknowledged that the prank was his.
“Other people were going to release live mice or, you know, building a beach in the front lobby area, and I thought, let’s do something more laid back, so I just decided to post the school for sale,” Scheele told Fox News 43 for a Sunday broadcast.
“He went and apologized and tried to make things right and in return they give him the harshest punishment possible,” his mother told Fox 43.
The school even referred him to the police, who “investigated” and “didn’t see a credible threat. They all kind of had a little chuckle about it,” his mom said.
“They tried to relate it back to all the recent school shootings and everything – they tried tying it back to that – but I don’t see how it was a threat at all,” Kylan told the TV station.
The ACLU sought a restraining order allowing Kylan to walk with his classmates — in vain.
Independence was the starting point for many of the wagon trains whose Anglo members “settled the West.” It also was the hometown of the 33rd President Harry S Truman, whose middle initial bears no period, because his middle name was S(.)
Truman High’s mascot is the Patriot.