EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com
Avery Doninger, the high school student who gained national renown for asserting her civil rights after administrators removed her from the ballot for Class of 2008 secretary, actually won re-election with a majority of votes this spring.
The Cool Justice Report has obtained copies of the ballots in the disputed election, following Freedom of Information requests and complaints made since Aug. 1. A significant number of requests remain outstanding.
Tally of the ballot copies provided by Regional School District 10 shows Doninger with 53 votes for Class of 2008 Secretary at Lewis Mills High School. Two other candidates whose names appeared on the ballot—Alicia Kennedy and Liz Kaseta—received 42 votes and 31 votes, respectively, according to the documents provided.
Some voters did not choose any of the candidates for secretary. The number of ballots copies provided following the FOI requests and complaints totaled 128.
Doninger’s lawsuit against principal Karissa Niehoff and superintendent Paula Schwartz—commonly known as The Douche Bag[s] Case—is scheduled for a hearing in U.S. District Court in New Haven next week.
Her lawyer, Jon Schoenhorn of Hartford, claims she was banned from office as punishment for constitutionally-protected activity, including trying to involve the community in securing a venue for a concert. Doninger apologized to school officials for characterizing them—in her personal, on-line blog at home—as female hygiene products.
Among the other retaliatory measures cited by Schoenhorn: Doninger was barred from giving a speech to the class, and printed t-shirts supporting her and First Amendment rights were censored. Also, students who spoke up for Doninger were told their votes would not count.
Connecticut school officials have no legal authority under the First Amendment to punish students for private on-line publishings that do not utilize school resources and do not occur on school grounds, Schoenhorn said. He is seeking injunctions that would uphold civil rights at Lewis Mills High School and rectify the handling of the rigged election.
Prior to the FOI requests and complaints by The Cool Justice Report, the write-in votes were not acknowledged. By all official pronouncements, they simply did not exist.