MONTANA — The Great Falls school board decided Mondayto defy a judge’s order and expel a high school student who hadposted photographs of female classmates on his personal Web site.
The board’s unanimous decision instructed Great Falls Highsenior Kenny Volk to transfer to C.M. Russell High School. Volktold the Great Falls Tribune on Monday that he would filean injunction in state court challenging the decision.
Just days before Monday’s board meeting, Montana District JudgeJulie Macek issued a restraining order on March 8 preventing theschool from enforcing the punishment. In February, Volk posteda section titled "10 hottest freshman girls," with photographsand short biographies, on his Web site. He took the pictures atschool with a disposable camera.
Principal Gary Davis, who had previously asked Volk not topost the photos, suspended the student on Feb. 20 for "insubordination"and instructed him to transfer to another high school, Volk toldthe Great Falls Tribune. Superintendent Bryan Dunn andDavis have since stressed earlier disciplinary problems as thereason for the punishment.
"This is not simply about a student posting somethingon a Web site," Dunn told the Tribune.
Macek’s ruling last week followed seven hours of testimonythat lasted for three days. In it, she wrote, "The testimonywas clear that [Volk] was not in any danger of being suspendedor otherwise disciplined after Jan. 9, 2002, for the actual takingof the photographs. It was only when Mr. Volk engaged in FirstAmendment activity that he was disciplined by the school."
Macek’s temporary order on Feb. 28 had allowed Volk to returnto school. After the March 8 hearing, Macek made the order permanent.Some of Volk’s peers welcomed him with high-fives and handshakes,he told the Tribune. More than 50 students had staged abrief sit-in outside Davis’ office on Feb. 25 in protest of Volk’ssuspension.
View Kenny Volk’s Web site at: http://geocities.com/wholefnsite2002.