Student Activist Claims Rights Violated

Joan Osterwalder, Press-Enterprise (Riverside), June 1, 2006

A Jurupa Valley High School senior on Thursday sued the Jurupa Unified School District, alleging his First Amendment rights were violated when he was suspended for promoting a protest against illegal immigration.

The suit, filed Thursday in Riverside County Superior Court, seeks at least $25,000 in damages and the removal of the suspension from Josh Denhalter’s student record. It also seeks an injunction prohibiting further action against him.

The district hasn’t seen the suit and couldn’t comment on it, said Superintendent Elliott Duchon.

On March 30, Denhalter, 18, wanted to organize a rally during the lunch hour on a public sidewalk across from the school, the suit said. Students are allowed to leave campus during lunch.

When Denhalter handed out fliers that morning, a school official told him to stop. Denhalter refused and was suspended for three days for “handing out fliers (before school) advocating the disruption of school activities,” according to the suit.

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