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ALPHARETTA | Student council president sacked after gay pitch | News

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ALPHARETTA | Student council president sacked after gay pitch

ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- Nearly a year ago, the students at Alpharetta High School elected Reuben Lack to be their student council president.

A month ago, he said, the school administration removed him because of an idea.

Earlier this year, Lack said he proposed changing the structure of the senior prom -- eliminating the prom king and prom queen for more gender-neutral titles. He said he pitched it to be more accommodating to gay students at Alpharetta High. But he says the student council never debated it because faculty advisers intervened.

"The teacher moderators were visibly agitated," Lack said.  "They were very, very uncomfortable about it. To the point where they were almost angry."

Within a few days, Lack said the school administration removed him from his position as student council president.

"Of course, they didn't come right out and say 'we're removing you for exercising your First Amendment rights,'" said Lack's attorney, James Radford, Jr.  Radford said Alpharetta High administrators abruptly called Lack into a meeting and trumped up charges against him.

Radford described Lack as a model student with a 3.7 GPA, and president of the school debate team.

The student has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Fulton County School System, Alpharetta High principal Shannon Kersey, and faculty advisors Emily Reiser and Michelle Werre.  The suit demands Lack's reinstatement and damages.

"The issue is entirely about First Amendment rights. All of us can have our disagreements about the issue of gay rights, gay marriage," Radford said. "This case is about the right of a young man who's a student at a public high school to speak his mind and to advocate for causes that are important for him."

Student council vice president Michael Danan told 11Alive News that Lack's removal wasn't retaliatory.  Danan said the council overwhelmingly opposed Lack's prom initiative.

The school principal, Shannon Kersey, declined comment.

A Fulton County school system spokeswoman, Samantha Evans, said Lack's proposal had "nothing to do with why this kid was removed from this position."

"It was about his inadequate performance as a student body president," she said.  She says Lack violated the council's by-laws.  She couldn't provide an answer when asked why the action was taken some ten months after Lack's election.

Student council vice president Michael Danan also contends Lack's removal wasn't retaliatory, and was related to issues unrelated to Lack's prom proposal.  Danan tells 11Alive News that the student council actually voted overwhelmingly against Lack's proposal.

Lack says faculty intervention stifled debate and skewed opinions on the student council.


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