OXFORD, Miss. (CN) - A high school expelled a freshman on his first day of school, accusing him of "gang activity" because he was "bopping his head and bumping his fists" while singing quietly to himself, his mother says in Federal Court. Her son has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the school knows it; the expulsion was retaliation for a civil rights complaint that had been settled just four days before, the mom says.
DeSoto County School District expelled her 15-year-old son from Olive Branch High School on his first day of class for the bogus allegations of "gang activity," the plaintiff, D.G., says on behalf of her son, A.S.
The mom says that she and parents of five other students filed a civil rights lawsuit against the school district and the City of Southaven in April this year. Among the complaints in that case were that "A.S. had been unlawfully disciplined and arrested for smiling on a DeSoto County school bus."
Three weeks after that case was filed, the school district retaliated against one of the child plaintiffs by arresting and expelling him, according to the new complaint.
The first case was settled on Aug. 6. On Aug. 10, the district expelled her son for "quietly singing to himself while bopping his head and bumping his fists to the beat" at an assembly, the mom says.
A police officer working at the school took A.S. to the principal's office, where he was accused of throwing "gang signs," then suspended and expelled, according to the complaint.
The mother says A.S. was diagnosed with ADHD, and the school "is aware of A.S.'s condition and has identified him as a student with special need entitled to receive special education services."
The mom says the school district's "anti-gang" policy is unconstitutionally vague. She wants it fixed, and she wants her son reinstated.
The mom and her son are represented by Kristy L. Bennett with the Mississippi branch of the ACLU.