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Lawsuit against school to push on

An American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against a local high school and its district will continue despite a partial resolution of a student complaint.

Student-submitted quotes at the center of the dispute will be published in the Minarets High School yearbook in May, according to Superintendent Darren Sylvia of Chawanakee Unified School District.

But, the ACLU says, the affected students were only notified of this March 13 — a week after the lawsuit had been filed March 6 and publicized by media outlets.

“We haven’t dropped the complaint even though the most urgent thing at the time was to make sure that our clients’ quotes were in the yearbook,” said staff attorney Abre’ Conner of ACLU Foundation of Northern California. “Our complaint also asked for longer term reliefs to make sure that other students also wouldn’t have to go through something like that.”

Students Steven Madrid and Mikayla Garaffa appealed by email to the MHS principal and yearbook advisor Jan. 14 after their quotes had been rejected for their yearbook senior pages Jan. 9. Their appeal included a warning letter from the ACLU.

In response, Conner said, the yearbook advisor “doubled down” on the removal of the quotes and indicated they did not meet the yearbook’s criteria due to being “politically divisive.” The advisor also noted they were not fun.

The two students “both identify as part of the LGBTQ community,” Conner said. Both are members of the Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network, which Madrid founded and leads at Minarets High School.

The ACLU is representing both students, but because one of the students is a minor her “parent is on the complaint.”

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