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Mazile v. Board of Education of the Hempstead Union Free School District (Challenging official retaliation against critic)

This case concerns whether a school board violated the First Amendment when it instituted a ban from school property in retaliation for a parent’s public criticism of school officials. For a number of years, Ronsard Mazile, who had a child attending school within the Hempstead Union Free School District, had regularly attended school board meetings and other school-related activities, such as parent-teacher conferences. As a result of his dissatisfaction with the administration of the School District, Mr. Mazile became an active critic of the school board and aligned himself with an organization that sought the removal of certain school board members. In or around October 2004, Mr. Mazile was a party to a proceeding commenced with the Commissioner of Education to have a member of the school board removed for malfeasance. In December 2004, soon after serving the board member with a petition, the Superintendent banned Mr. Mazile from school property and threatened him with trespassing charges if he attempted to return.

On March 7, 2005, the NYCLU filed an Article 78 petition on Mr. Mazile’s behalf. The petition alleged that the defendants banned Mr. Mazile from public property in retaliation for his exercising his First Amendment rights, and did so without any review and “in a completely unilateral, arbitrary, and capricious manner.” Later in March 2005, the case was resolved with the school district. Mr. Mazile is now allowed to attend school board meetings. 

Supreme Court, Nassau County, Index No. 003467/05 (direct). 

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