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Tag Archive | "ACLU"

Teen defends Post newspaper, will miss prom


 

Peyton Elliston

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs High School senior Peyton Elliston was upset a few months ago when Cedar Springs Public Schools stopped distributing the 150 copies of the Post to the school buildings without notice. The Post and the school later negotiated to drop fewer papers there, but Petyon said she still isn’t seeing it at the high school.

Last month, Peyton put together three packets of information, along with a Post that she hung in the bathrooms in the senior hallway. The cover page said that “the transportation office was directed by the superintendent to abstain from distributing the newspapers any longer. This is nothing short of an attempt on control and censorship. While I understand that many people have resorted to using the Internet to access the daily news, the Cedar Springs Post is still a relevant collection of the significant events taking place in our community. We reserve the right to have access to the town newspaper within our schools, and we will not let one woman prevent us from keeping up with the stories surrounding Cedar Springs.”

The cover letter was accompanied by anonymous comments from students and community members.

Peyton and her mom Tami met with Assistant Principal Anne Kostus on the issue. According to Tami, they made an agreement that Peyton would take a one-day suspension for “insubordination” though there is nothing on that in the handbook. She said the agreement was that she would still be able to go to prom if she behaved. Students who are suspended cannot normally go to the next dance.

Tami said the insubordination came from the fact that the week before, Peyton had asked a lunch employee if she could put something on the tables (a paper) and was told she had to get permission. She didn’t put the papers out.

While Tami and Peyton thought the ordeal was over, she said she later got a phone call from Kostus saying that she should not have told her Peyton would be able to go to prom. It wasn’t fair to the other students.

Tami said the change came after the petition came out to ask the Superintendent to resign. Tami is one of the backers of the petition.

Peyton, who has a 4.0 average and will go to Michigan State for pre-law, said she would do it again. “It’s censorship, you can’t censor the students’ material,” she said.

In last week’s Post, Board President Heidi Reed made the statement “Just as our students do not sacrifice their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse doors, our individual Board members retain their individual rights as citizens when they volunteer to serve our school community,” when she was speaking about statements made on a board member’s personal Facebook page. Peyton’s dad brought that up when he met with Kostus, but was reportedly told it didn’t apply to Peyton, because she didn’t ask permission. But was also told if she had asked, it wouldn’t have been given. He has contacted the ACLU regarding Peyton’s right to free speech.

The Post reached out to Kostus to confirm the story or give a comment, but said that she couldn’t discuss the discipline of a student due to the privacy act.

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Michigan should end civil asset forfeiture


 

Require a criminal conviction before taking people’s property

By Jarrett Skorup, Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Lansing began 2017 on the right foot by enacting a law to make it easier for people to try to recover property seized through civil asset forfeiture, but the state should end the practice altogether.

Last week, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the ACLU of Michigan issued a joint press release applauding the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder for passing and signing into law House Bill 4629. The new law removes the requirement that a person pay a bond equivalent to 10 percent of the value of their property seized through civil asset forfeiture if they want to try to get it back.

“This new law will further protect the constitutional rights of citizens,” said Jarrett Skorup, a policy analyst at the Mackinac Center. “But Michigan needs to do more. Twelve states require law enforcement to get a criminal conviction before forfeiting property and two – New Mexico and Nebraska – have banned civil forfeiture altogether.”

Skorup spoke with ABC 12 this week about the case of a Genesee County man whose property was seized by a Saginaw County detective in 2014.

“All we know is the police never pressed charges against him, never convicted him, yet they ended up with over $20,000 in cash and some of his property, and that should raise a lot of eyebrows for people,” Skorup said.

Now, a Saginaw County deputy is suing over the matter, saying the sheriff’s department retaliated against him after reporting the seized money was used for confidential informant drug buys.

Since 2015, the State of Michigan has passed several reforms to limit how police may seize property. The standard of evidence required to take property is now higher, and the process is more transparent.

“Previously, if they wanted to forfeit someone’s stuff, it was based on a very low standard of evidence, and they’ve raised that a little bit higher,” Skorup told WSJM. “However, they still aren’t requiring that someone be convicted of a crime in order to take their stuff and forfeit it over to the state.”

Skorup added that a number of incoming legislators are interested in further reforming Michigan’s civil forfeiture laws.

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