Judge Blocks Student Suspension Over Note About 'Rapist'

Oct 24, 2019

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the three-day suspension of a Cape Elizabeth High School Student for what the school says was bullying and what the ACLU of Maine says was protected speech.

Sophomore Aela Mansmann was suspended after she placed a post-it note in a girl's bathroom that read, "There's a rapist in our school and you know who it is." The ACLU says Mansmann's intent was not to target one student, but to raise awareness of the dangers of sexual violence in school and motivate the administration to take action.

In his decision U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker writes that Mansmann is likely to succeed on her First Amendment Claims. He also says he believes the record suggests Mansmann was not being frivolous and that the posting, within the confines of a girls' bathroom, was related to a matter of concern to young women who might enter the bathroom and see the message and was not disruptive of school discipline.

In an email from the ACLU of Maine, Mansmann' s mother Shael Norris, who is named on the complaint on behalf of her daughter, says the family is thrilled with the decision and that all her daughter ever wanted was for students to feel safe speaking out about sexual assault.

Correction: a previous version of this post referred to Judge Lance Walker as Judge "Lane" Walker.