On January 7, 2015

Rutland County parent awarded $147,500 to settle free speech case

By VTDigger staff

A Rutland County parent who was barred from attending school board meetings has received a $147,500 settlement from the Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union.

Marcel Cyr, who with his wife, Valerie Cyr, had been critical of the quality of the education their child received at Benson Village School, was issued a no-trespass order and told that he could be arrested if he came onto district property.

A federal court in September ruled that the district violated Cyr’s rights by barring his participation in board meetings without explanation and without recourse.

The settlement was reached through mediation, according to a news release from the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped to represent Cyr in the case. The Vermont ACLU contended that the board’s ban infringed upon Cyr’s due process and free speech rights.

“The message to government agencies is simple: you can’t treat the interested public like trespassers,” ACLU of Vermont executive director Allen Gilbert said in a news release Monday, Jan. 5. “The federal court has ruled that doing so violates the constitution, and now, the supervisory union has paid for infringing on a concerned parent’s rights.”

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