(WOODLAND PARK) — Less than 24 hours after Woodland Park School District found itself involved in a lawsuit with a former employee who alleged his First Amendment rights had been trampled upon, they unbanned him from school property.

The lawsuit filed on Thursday, Aug. 3, stemmed from a June 14 incident, which was ignited when Logan Ruths made a brief remark during a public comment session of a school board meeting. Ruths was commenting in response to a speaker’s statements that he perceived as harmful anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.

According to the lawsuit, Ruths, who is a lifelong Woodland Park resident, was escorted out of a school board meeting after the district perceived the comment to be disruptive and aggressive. The next day, a letter from the school district’s attorney outlined Ruths’ banishment from school property, warning of potential criminal prosecution if he were to step onto school premises.

“He didn’t commit a crime, he cracked a three-second joke. As a public school district, you cannot banish someone for exercising that type of First Amendment free speech right,” said Tim Macdonald, the legal director at ACLU Colorado, representing Ruths.

The lawsuit filed on Thursday demanded the revocation of the banishment order, asserting that Ruths’ constitutional rights to freedom of expression were violated. Within 24 hours of filing that suit, the school district lifted the banishment order.

“It took us filing a lawsuit and a judge setting a hearing… Once the school district was faced with the prospect that they would have to answer to a court… and explain to a judge what they had done, they recognized they didn’t have a leg to stand on,” said Macdonald, who added that they had asked to lift the banishment order prior to filing the suit, but did not receive an answer from the district.

While grateful for the restoration of his access, Ruths expressed his astonishment at the extent to which the school district, a place he grew up attending, had gone, especially when it involved one of their own.

“Woodland Park has been my absolute home. I think it is very un-American and very undemocratic to be setting that example, especially as an educational institution where you have kids… building their life expectations around what they’re seeing,” said Ruths.

Ruths is determined to attend the upcoming school board meeting this Wednesday, Aug. 9, viewing it as an opportunity to advocate for his community.

“I don’t plan to disrupt them, but I will be vocal with my opinion when I disagree with something. Making sure that the community is not scared or worried about being silenced in similar manners is a huge contributing factor,” said Ruth.

Ruths’ attorneys say that they have not yet dropped the lawsuit, “We’ve served the school district with Open Records Act requests to understand whether this has been a pattern and practice of trying to silence their critics,” said Macdonald.

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