ACLU says Kansas school boards’ rules violate speech rights

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – The ACLU of Kansas argues that local school boards are violating free speech rights with policies that restrict negative public comments.

The group is pushing the Shawnee Mission district in the Kansas City area to change a policy the ACLU views as especially restrictive. It requires speakers participating in open forums at meetings to make comments in a “positive” and “constructive way.” Complaints against board members or employees can’t be aired in the forums.

Legal director Lauren Bonds said other districts have restrictions, including Topeka and Wichita.

Bonds said the ACLU of Kansas is waiting for a response from the Shawnee Mission board after three new members take office in January.

KCUR-FM reports there isn’t a tally of how many of school boards prohibit speakers from airing grievances in public.

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