WOODLAND PARK, Colo. — On Tuesday, October 3, 2023, ACLU of Colorado lawyers filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of their lawsuit against the Woodland Park School District (WPSD) on behalf of district resident, former WPSD employee and known, vocal critic of WPSD leadership, Logan Ruths. The suit sought to lift a WPSD order purporting to ban Mr. Ruths from school property and events for a year after he made a brief remark expressing disagreement with anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric at a school board meeting. The withdrawal of the suit follows WPSD’s rescission of its banishment order and admission in court that it was not warranted.
The lawsuit alleged that at a school board meeting on June 14, 2023, a public comment speaker made anti-LGBTQ+ remarks that troubled Mr. Ruths. Seeking to denounce the speaker’s views, Mr. Ruths asked: “Where else do you do comedy at? I’d love to see your show sometime.”
According to the lawsuit, the board stopped the meeting, threatened to call the police to have Ruths removed and ultimately intimidated him into leaving the property. The day after the board meeting, Mr. Ruths received a letter from WPSD’s attorney ordering him to stay away from district property and events for more than a year or face criminal prosecution. The lawsuit alleged this banishment order violated the First Amendment and the Colorado Constitution; it had no legitimate basis and was instead thinly veiled retaliation for Mr. Ruths’ open criticisms of WPSD leadership.
Documents filed by the ACLU, along with the complaint, asked the court to immediately lift the banishment order. The morning after the lawsuit was filed — and after a federal judge set the case for an emergency hearing — WPSD rescinded its unlawful banishment order.
“Leaders in our school districts have an essential role in the education and shaping of our children. As a community, our role is to hold them accountable when they violate Coloradans’ rights,” said Deborah Richardson, Executive Director of the ACLU of Colorado. “The outcome of this case was a victory in the ACLU’s efforts to protect freedom of expression in Colorado.”
Now, in its first filing with the court, WPSD has acknowledged that Mr. Ruths’ exclusion was not warranted.
“All I wanted was an apology, but at least they’ve admitted what they did was wrong. Now that we’ve shown them they can’t act with impunity, I don’t want to drag out litigation that will just drain resources that should be going to the students of Woodland Park,” said Ruths. “I hope this outcome encourages others not to be bullied by WPSD into silence,” he added.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit against WPSD on Thursday, August 3, 2023, and the district lifted the banishment order the following day, Friday, August 4, 2023.