ACLU still deciding whether to appeal GSA case

By : Jamie Hyman
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Tavares – American Civil Liberties Union attorneys are still deciding whether they’ll continue the legal battle for a Gay-Straight Alliance at Carver Middle School. The deadline on a new appeal in the case is Sept. 21.

The fight for a GSA at the school has been ongoing since 2012, when then-14-year-old Bayli Silberstein requested permission to start a GSA at Carver Middle. After months of legal wrangling and school board meeting debates, a judge granted Silberstein permission to form the club for the remainder of her eighth grade year, which ended in the summer of 2013. That settlement has expired, Bayli has moved onto high school and now, the GSA no longer meets at Carver Middle School.

In 2013, the ACLU filed a second lawsuit on behalf of Hannah Faughnan, who at the time was a seventh-grader attempting to form a GSA at Carver Middle School. Faughnan represented a group of students who wanted to create the GSA but were blocked by school administration. On Aug. 19, U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges dismissed that lawsuit.

In the meantime, the Lake County School District is attempting to recoup around $7,000 in legal fees related to the case.

“Deposition costs, service fees, that kind of thing,” says school board attorney Steve Johnson, who confirmed that recovering those fees is standard in this type of case. “It’s really not much of an issue.”

Daniel Tilley, ACLU of Florida staff attorney, says the amount of the bill is not yet confirmed but, “We will pay what we are directed to pay.”

“It’s a request to the court to award those costs,” says Johnson. The bill has been submitted to Judge Hodges for his decision.

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