Scappoose School District Withdraws Policy and Settles ACLU Lawsuit
Lane Powell Attorneys Darin Sands, Anthony Stark and Whitney Button were named in a June 17 story on the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) website titled “Scappoose School District Withdraws Policy and Settles ACLU Lawsuit” for their work in a pro bono case regarding a high school dance team’s social media policies and its potential to stifle free speech. The case arose after the Scappoose High School competitive dance team instituted a new social media policy that prohibited any communications about the school’s dance team by team members or their families. While the original intent of the new policy was to promote sportsmanship and curb bullying, the over-reaching language of the policy had prohibited dance team members and parents from any communication made “verbally or written via social media” regarding any aspect of the dance team or they could face punishment. Marissa Harper, a junior at Scappoose High School, and her mother, Alicia Harper, refused to sign the new policy because they believed it violated their free speech rights. After their attempts to resolve the issue with the school officials failed, the Harpers turned to the ACLU for help. Sands, Stark and Button volunteered their services to the ACLU to represent the Harpers in the lawsuit against the Scappoose School District. After realizing the gravity of the issues presented to them, the school officials quickly withdrew the problematic policy and reached an agreement to settle the lawsuit with the ACLU.
The case has continued to garner much attention in the media. Stark was quoted regarding the case in a June 20 Portland Tribune article titled “Scappoose Settles Dance Team Lawsuit.” Stark and Sands were also quoted in a June 20 article titled “Oregon School District Settles Lawsuit Over Dance Team’s Controversial Social Media Policy” on the Student Press Law Center website. For additional information regarding the case, view the January 7 story.