School Took Toilet Humor a Bit Too Seriously

     (CN) — A Long Island teen took his alma mater to court over punishment he faced for joking in an annual variety show about the superintendent’s focus on bathroom policy.
     The controversy erupted back in March 2015 at Miller Place High School, located on the north shore of Long Island in the easternmost reaches of the Empire State.
     Kyle Vetrano, a senior, says he submitted a script for the variety show that included a “satire designed to make light of defendant high school’s bathroom usage policies, which was understood by plaintiff to only allow one student in each bathroom at any given time.”
     Despite rehearsals, Vetrano says his show was besieged by actors dropping out and trouble remembering their lines.
     Some performers began ad-libbing to cover the missing dialogue, according to the complaint, filed May 27 in Suffolk County Court.
     Vetrano says his ad-libbed contribution sparked unexpected backlash. “Is this what our superintendent gets paid all that money for, to write bathroom policy?” the student had quipped, according to the 12-page complaint.
     While Vetrano was in the dressing room shortly thereafter, the assistant principal burst in.
     Vetrano says the woman was “visibly upset” that his ad-libbed remark had made her boss, the superintendent, look bad.
     When Vetrano reported to the main office the next day, according to the complaint, he learned that he was banned from school property and banned from the second night of the variety show.
     The assistant principal allegedly threatened Vetrano as well that his behavior could jeopardize his hopes of going to prom or graduation.
     “Plaintiff tried to reiterate that this was a single ad-libbed line, and not designed to personally offend,” his lawsuit states.
     Vetrano says the threat of missing out on graduation and other events kept him from protesting the abuse of his free-speech rights.
     Such “cruel and arbitrary over-reaction” to his freedom of speech “resulted in significant mental harm, serious emotional distress and severe humiliation,” the complaint states.
     A spokeswoman for the school district declined to comment on the lawsuit, which names as defendants the school, the district, the school superintendent and the assistant principal.
     Vetrano seeks damages for violations of his First Amendment rights.
     He is represented by John Ray with Ray, Mitev & Associates in Miller Place, N.Y.

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