EDINA, Minn. – Attorneys for The Young Conservatives Club at Edina High School have filed a discrimination lawsuit against the school district after school officials shut down the club after they posted a video voicing their displeasure over a disrespectful display by students during a Veteran’s Day program at the school.
Attorney Erick Kaardal of Morhman, Kaardal and Erickson, P.A. is representing the student group and held a press conference on Thursday afternoon to share details of the lawsuit. In a video of the press conference posted on Facebook, Kaardal told members of the Young Conservatives that the press conference had to be held off of school grounds because the Edina School District threatened to arrest the group for trespassing.
“This is a clear case of discrimination against students with conservative beliefs by a school whose policies have been documented as promoting an extreme ideological agenda,” Kaardal said in an earlier press release.
The lawsuit stems from an incident that occurred at Edina High School during a Veteran’s Day observance where some Edina High School students refused to stand during the performances of the National Anthem and Taps to honor service members who lost their lives in the line of duty. A now viral video showed protesters disrespecting the event by laying down on the floor. The Young Conservatives posted the video on their social media and denounced the protester’s behavior.
Afterwards, a series of threats against members of the Young Conservatives ensued via another video on social media, with a masked individual using the name “EHS Antifa” calling club members “racists” and threatened members of the club for “pursuing your alt-right agenda.”
“This is why we at EHS Anti-fascists have decided your club cannot continue to exist in its current form. We will not stop until every tentacle of your evil monstrosity is sliced off at the nerve,” the masked individual said in the video.
Edina Schools Superintendent John Schultz called the video “inflammatory and creepy” in a November 13 letter to parents.
Tensions escalated over the Veteran’s Day weekend when police were called to investigate after several members of the Young Conservatives Club left school in fear. The administration then dissolved the Young Conservatives Club.
According to the school, The Young Conservatives Club was terminated because it “criticized the school’s policies supporting the organized student protest at the November 9, 2017, Edina High School Veterans Day program.”
Edina High School Principal Andy Beaton defended the protesters, saying, “The bottom line with this particular instance is that students are not required to stand for the national anthem or Taps or the pledge.” Beaton commented about the Young Conservatives Club members who objected over the protester’s behavior, “When the statements become disrespectful, that’s when we have to step in.”
Kaardal noted the irony in the principal’s words, “School policy allows students to disrespect military veterans and the United States flag, but will not tolerate those students who criticize the disrespectful behavior of the student protesters. That’s a double standard, it’s compelled speech, and it’s a violation of the U.S. Flag Code and a violation of First Amendment rights.”
During the press conference, Kaardal noted that Edina High School has stopped celebrating “USA Day” this past year and has removed American Flags from the classroom. In addition to the lawsuit, Kaardal said that the Young Conservatives look to reinstate “USA Day” at the school and return flags to the classrooms.
Named in the lawsuit as defendants are Edina High School, the Edina School District, Principal Andy Beaton and Superintendent John Schultz.