PORT ORANGE, Fla. (WESH) —A high school student lost his parking pass after he drove to school with an elephant statue emblazoned with ‘Trump’ in the bed of his pickup truck, and now a lawsuit has been filed on his behalf.
Attorney Jacob Huebert says his client, Tyler Maxwell, lost his rights last month when the senior drove his pickup onto the campus of Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange.
In the bed of his truck was a red, white and blue elephant, with the word ‘Trump’ on the side of the statue.
The student was told to go home and come back without the statue. When he returned the next day, the Trump elephant still in the truck bed, the school revoked Maxwell’s on-campus student parking decal.
“The school doesn’t have the right to suppress student’s political expression unless the school has a real or substantial basis to believe that the expression would disrupt school activities,” Hubert said.
Maxwell initially retained a local attorney who sent a sharply worded letter to the school board, claiming that if bumper stickers and social messaging T-shirts are allowed, why should Maxwell’s expression be censored?
A school board attorney responded saying Maxwell’s elephant violates school board policy 805, which addresses political activities on school board property and at school sponsored events. The attorney said the elephant display falls outside protected speech.
Huebert, a senior attorney with the Goldwater Institute, who specializes in constitutional rights, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Maxwell.
“He was really shocked and upset when his school took away his ability to park there because he wants to communicate this message on his truck,” Hubert said.
The lawsuit asks that Maxwell be immediately allowed to park on campus again, with his political message in place, and that the court declare Maxwell’s First Amendment rights were violated.