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ACLU involved in South Hadley School Committee battle with parents group

By WGGB Staff

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WGGB) — The American Civil Liberties Union has become involved in a public battle between a group of parents and the South Hadley School Committee after a vocal parent was removed from a meeting.

Luke Gelinas was removed from an April 14 meeting with a police escort after Edward Boiselle, who was chairman of the committee at the time, ordered him to leave for revealing what he thought to be information the family of Phoebe Prince, who hanged herself after allegedly being bullied, had asked the school department not be revealed.  Gelinas had also argued for the dismissal or resignation of Boiselle, School Superintendent Gus Sayer and South Hadley High School Dan Smith.

In the time since that meeting, Gelinas has made public a letter an attorney with the ACLU, William C. Newman,  sent to the committee claiming his constitutional rights had been violated. The letter states private citizens are not prohibited from discussing sensitive or personal information during school committee public comment sessions.

Newman also argued the removal violated the First Amendment rights of Gelinas to debate the qualifications and performance of public officials.

The committee is set to meet again Wednesday, however, Gelinas said he would be in attendance but has asked Newman not to come so as to not detract the focus of the meeting from the children in the school system.


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