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Texas School Fights Release of ‘Clock Boy’ Info

AUSTIN (CN) - The Texas school district being federally investigated for the arrest of "clock boy" Ahmed Mohamed has sued Texas to stop disclosure of details of the investigation.

The Irving Independent School District sued Texas and Attorney General Ken Paxton in Travis County Court on Feb. 25.

The Dallas-area school district made headlines in September when Ahmed, 14, was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to MacArthur High School. He also was suspended from school for three days.

A photograph of a handcuffed and bewildered Mohamed quickly went viral, with critics calling his arrest Islamophobia and racism run amok. President Obama responded by Tweeting "Cool clock, Ahmed," and invited the boy to the White House.

Irving police had said the device "could reasonably be mistaken as a device" had it been left in a bathroom or under a car.

Ahmed was not charged and was released to his family, who have since demanded $15 million for civil rights violations, and an apology from city and school district officials. In October, the family decided to move to Qatar, to accept a Qatari government scholarship and get away from the controversy in Texas. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch confirmed in December that the federal government was investigating Ahmed's arrest.

In the latest lawsuit, Irving ISD said it received a public information request in November for a copy of the Justice Department's inquiry letter.

The school district asked Paxton for an opinion on whether the letter is subject to disclosure. Irving ISD claims the information is exempt from disclosure because it contains information on an ongoing law enforcement proceeding and information about a student protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

Paxton concluded in a Feb. 11 letter that the information must be disclosed, resulting in the lawsuit.

Irving ISD said Paxton's use of the anticipation-of-litigation exception is inconsistent with previous attorney general rulings and "is simply contrary to the common law understanding of anticipation of litigation."

"The attorney general's interpretation and application of the exception was overly narrow, and his analysis was incorrect and contrary to established law," the 5-page complaint states.

The school district seeks declaratory judgment and a permanent injunction.

It is represented by Lisa A. Brown with Thompson Horton in Houston.

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