ACLU Files Lawsuit. The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU files a lawsuit against a Georgia school district whom they feel wrongfully terminated a man for practicing his right to free speech.
Last May, Johnny Cook, a Haralson County school bus driver was terminated from his position following a Facebook post he made regarding an interaction he had with a middle school aged student who had not eaten lunch that day.
According to NBC affiliate 11Alive News, Mr. Cooks Facebook post read as follows:
“A lil flustered this evening. A middle schooler got on my bus this evening and said mr Johnny im hungry. I said why are you hungry buddy? Didn’t you eat lunch ? He said no sir I didn’t have any money on my account. I said they would let you charge it? No sir. Huh! What! This child is already on reduced lunch and we can’t let him eat. Are you kidding me? I’m certain there was leftover food thrown away today. But kids were turned away because they didn’t have .40 on there account. As a tax payer, I would much rather feed a child than throw it away. I would rather feed a child than to give food stamps to a crack head. My number is *** *** **** the next time we can’t feed a kid for forty cent, please call me. We will scrape up the money. This is what the world was come to” *The telephone number has been blocked out for privacy purposes
The day following this post, Cook was given an ultimatum by the school district to either apologize for his post, along with a two-week suspension, or be fired. When he refused to apologize his employment was terminated.
Acting on the basis of the right of free speech, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia (ACLU) has taken Mr. Cook’s case and filed a lawsuit again Haralson County School District. The first amendment, one that is often met with controversy, protects the free speech, including in print, or all citizens, and the ACLU agrees that Mr. Cooks right has been violated. In addition to suing the school district, the ACLU is also going after Superintendent Brett Stanton directly.
Stanton, who claims Mr. Cook’s portrayal is not what actually happened, according to the Times-Georgian said “We are very disappointed that this lawsuit has come forward based on such faulty information.” “It completely misrepresents the actual situation that occurred.”
According to WSB-TV Atlanta, Mr. Cook was trying to keep the community informed of the problem happening right there. “The inquiry or the message was of kids going hungry and going hungry all over the nation” Cook stated.
Cook is right. Most people think of Africa, and other far away nations when they hear of child hunger, but they fail to see it is happening right here in our backyard. According to Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, in 2012 15.9 million children lived in food insecure households. In 2011 the top five states with the highest rate of food insecure children under 18 were North Dakota, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Virginia and Georgia, so it is no surprise that Georgia local Johnny Cook felt the need to voice his concern for this child.
A press conference by the ACLU was scheduled for Thursday February 27, 2014 as this lawsuit begins in very early stages against the Georgia school district.