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$25K and an apology: Hillsboro SD settles suit with teen

Washington County
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A former Liberty High School student settled a lawsuit with the Hillsboro School District for $25,000 on Tuesday, months after he said his First Amendment rights were violated when he was removed from class for wearing a t-shirt printed with the words “Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co.”

Addison Barnes, a senior at the time, filed a lawsuit against the school district on May 21. Along with the financial terms of the settlement, the school district also has to pay his attorney fees and send an apology letter written by school Principal Greg Timmons. 

Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Ore. (KOIN)

“Addison Barnes should be commended for his courage,” said Brad Benbrook, one of Barnes’ attorneys, in a statement. “The message on his shirt wasn’t the point of this case. We brought the case to police the thought police. The First Amendment does not allow what is going on in too many schools today.” 

KOIN 6 News has reached out to the Hillsboro School District for comment. A spokeswoman said they’re reviewing the press release from Barnes’ attorneys and are working on a response. 

Originally, when Barnes was asked during his “People and Politics” class to cover up his shirt, he obliged and returned to class. Then, citing his First Amendment rights, he uncovered the t-shirt before he was given two options: cover up or go home. Barnes went home, which was treated as a suspension. 

A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order just over a week after the lawsuit, allowing Barnes to wear the shirt at school for the rest of the school year.

In a statement on Tuesday, Barnes said he filed the lawsuit to “stand up for myself and other students who might be afraid to express their right-of-center views.”

“Everyone knows that if a student wears an anti-Trump shirt to school, the teachers won’t think twice about it. But when I wore a pro-Trump shirt, I got suspended,” he said. “That’s not right.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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