A 17-year-old Robert McQueen High School junior was suspended Wednesday after Rep. Mark Amodei’s office complained to administration about a call the student had made to his office.
Noah C. had never had so much as a detention before, is a model student, and a major player on his school’s debate team. He had just been elected class secretary/treasurer but will not be able to serve in that role due to this unconstitutional suspension.
Noah and dozens of his classmates called their representatives during Wednesday’s nationwide school walkouts over gun violence. During his call with Congressman Amodei’s office, Noah advocated for the Congressman to vote to raise the minimum age to buy a gun and to ban bump stocks. He then made a passionate plea for members of Congress to “get off their fucking asses” and take action on gun violence and keep students safe.
After this call, a staffer from Congressman Amodei’s office called Noah’s school and, in an act of unconstitutional retaliation, reported this conversation as “offensive.” Noah was then suspended for two days for “disrespectful behavior/language,” even though none of his speech was directed at school staff or other students.
Noah recognizes he should have chosen his words more carefully, but students – like everyone else – have a right to criticize government officials, even with swear words.
"Being yelled at for calling my representative and trying to create change in the world is one of the worst feelings I've ever experienced. All I want is for this suspension to be overturned and to take my place as class secretary, so I can move on to college with my record restored. I've never even had a detention before let alone a suspension," Noah said.
“My son is a good student and has never had behavioral problems. It was extreme to suspend him, and the school couldn’t even tell me if they had any legal basis to do it,” Stacie, Noah’s mom, said.
Noah’s dad, Richard, said: “My son is a great kid. It’s absolutely despicable and disgusting the school did this.”
The ACLU of Nevada on Monday sent a demand letter to McQueen High School and the Washoe County School District seeking to have the suspension overturned. A letter was also sent to Congressman Amodei to remind him that students do have rights under the First Amendment and requests that he retract his office’s complaint and apologize to Noah.
ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Tod Story said:
“It is unbelievable that a constituent should have to worry about calling a Congressional office to share their opinions because your congressman’s office might retaliate against you by reporting you to your school or place of employment. The retaliation by Congressman Amodei’s office is a betrayal of the First Amendment and of the representative process. Nothing this constituent did was illegal, and we hope Congressman Amodei would be as interested in the opinions of students as anyone who seeks to ‘petition the government.’”