High school student: I’ve been suspended 3 times for preaching, handing out Bible tracts
EVERETT, Wash. — Michael Leal says he preaches the message from the gospel and hands out Bible tracts every day at his high school — actions that allegedly got him suspended three times in one month.
“Lately it’s been outside, maybe a few times inside, it really depends on where I’m at and where the people are at, as well,” Leal said Wednesday.
The senior at Cascade High School in Everett says he was suspended three times in the month of October for preaching and handing out Bible tracts during school hours on school grounds.
“It’s usually during quiet time, self time, time for yourself, or lunch, after school, before school, stuff like that. I never try to do it to disrupt the school schedule at all,” Leal said.
After the first suspension, Leal said he contacted an attorney to send the school district a different message.
"Students don't leave their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door," said Conrad Reynolds, Leal's attorney.
Leal said other students complained and that’s what led to his suspension.
"That's what really started it all right there, just kids complaining, 'He's preaching, we don't want to hear it, it's offending us, it's upsetting us,'" Leal said.
Reynolds said this is a violation of Leal's constitutional rights, saying the student should be allowed to hand out religious pamphlets and preach at school in the halls or the lunchroom if he chooses.
The Everett School District confirmed it did receive a lawsuit from Leal's attorney Wednesday, but refused to comment on Leal's suspensions or on the details of the suit.
"We believe really strongly that if any point of view is restricted, then that hurts everyone's free speech," Reynolds said.
The lawyer said he hopes to change the school policy when it comes to handing out literature.
In the meantime, Leal hopes his message is getting across.
"I feel my rights were being impinged to speak and to express what I believe in," Leal said.