ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — The Francis Howell School Board is now at the center of a lawsuit after the board allegedly censored an organization from speaking at meetings.
Ken Gontarz is the president of Francis Howell Families, an online group he designed to keep school district leaders accountable.
“We’ve been an organization that has been put in place to advocate for common sense teaching and common sense administration, sometimes taking an opposing perspective,” said Gontarz.
Gontarz said his fight for free speech began last October. That’s when he says his group was silenced.
“I get a letter from the president of the Francis Howell School Board, saying that you are not able to reference Francis Howell Families, your pack, or the website,” Gontarz said.
Gontarz said the board even cut off the mic of a group member after he mentioned the group.
“We as members of our pact thought that was unfair and discriminatory,” Gontarz said.
Francis Howell Families took the matter to court and got representation from the Institute for Free Speech in Washington. A U.S. district judge recently issued a preliminary injunction stating Francis Howell Families, as well as anyone else, is allowed to reference their organization and websites.
“The case as I said was a classic First Amendment free-speech issue. We are not asking for money. We just wanna have an equal representation and to speak like everyone else,” Gontarz said.
Until the judge issues his final ruling later in the fall, the ruling stands for all future board meetings.
Francis Howell School District sent this statement to FOX 2:
“The Francis Howell School District is aware of the order and will comply with the Court’s preliminary decision. As the case is still pending and awaiting a decision on its merits, the District has no additional comment at this time.”