DANVILLE (KRON) — A Bay Area high school finds itself at the center of heated debate after a student makes a controversial video to try to become class president.
The student who produced an Islamic terror-themed campaign video earlier this year has been reinstated as junior class president at a Danville high school.
It is a decision that is not going over well with some people in the community.
But the school board is standing by its decision.
“I just think that’s so disgusting that someone is president now after something so hateful,” former San Ramon Valley High School student Brie Bass said.
Some say they could not believe what happened was real.
“I think it was supposed to be just a joke honestly,” student Casey Cox said.
Current and former students at San Ramon Valley High School in Danville have mixed opinions about the junior class president being reinstated by the school district after posting an Islamic-terror themed campaign video on Twitter. That same student was recently elected to lead the associate student body next year.
The school administration initially stripped the student of the leadership role even after the student took the video down.
“From our perspective, it was really a First Amendment case,” First Amendment Attorney Gill Sperlein said.
Sperlein was hired to help the student regain the leadership positions.
“The principle that we are protecting beyond just the elements of this case is the principle that only under very narrow circumstances can a school district punish students based on their speech between each other,” Sperlein said. “My client released this video and within hours of it being posted, he got a call from a fellow student who said, ‘Hey, you know, I thought your video was funny, but it was also racially or culturally insensitive.’ And he took that to heart and immediately removed the video.”
“We have seen the video,” district spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich said. “And in our interpretation of the video, it is not hate speech.”
That determination played a role in the district recently reversing their decision to strip the student of being junior class president.
“Schools are often placed in the position of walking a very tight balancing act related to student’s right of free speech, and sometimes when exercising that free speech offends other people,” Graswich said.
“I think they could have done more to stand up for it and fight back against it, and not have that person represent the school,” Bass said.
“I think a lot of people are upset that it makes our school kind of look bad in a way,” Cox said. “We don’t really want that heat on us for something that wasn’t supposed to be meant how it was interpreted.”
The student’s attorney says his client is committed to regaining the confidence of his classmates.
“There is going to have to be some repair to the community that he has offended, but he is committed to doing that and he will,” Sperlein said.
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