Florida Student Sues School for Taking Away Parking Pass over Giant Trump Elephant in His Truck

A student in Florida is suing his school for allegedly violating his rights after they revoked his parking privileges for displaying a large "Trump" elephant in the back of his pickup truck.

Tyler Maxwell, 18, has launched a lawsuit against Volusia County Schools Board and his school's principals after they told him he must remove the elephant expressing support for the president or risk losing his parking pass, which he paid $55 for.

According to the suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida on October 22, Maxwell first drove to Spruce Creek High School with the elephant in the back of his truck on Monday, September 14.

Around 20 minutes into the school day, the 18-year-old was pulled out of class to speak to Assistant Principal Alan Canetti.

The lawsuit alleges that Canetti told him to take the elephant home and could only return to school without it.

Maxwell's father then came to the school later that day to ask for a written explanation from the School Board of why his son was not allowed to have the elephant on school grounds. He also asked for one from the school's principal, Todd Sparger. All three failed to provide him with a written response, according to the lawsuit.

The 18-year-old attempted to drive to school the next day with the elephant still in the bed of his truck, but was stopped by Sparger outside the school grounds. Maxwell then relinquished his parking decal to the principal after being told he could not park at the school.

The lawsuit states that Maxwell is suing the school as he "is unwilling to surrender his First Amendment right to freedom of expression" in exchange for permission to drive to school.

"School administrators might not like the message Tyler's delivering with his pickup truck, but they still have to respect his free speech rights," Goldwater Institute Senior Attorney Jacob Huebert, who is representing Maxwell, said in a statement.

"Other students, school staff, and school board members can speak their minds without fear of reprisal, and Tyler should be treated exactly the same."

In a letter to Maxwell's lawyers, provided to Newsweek, Volusia County School officials said the student violated school board policy with his political statue.

The letter adds that School Board Policy 805 states: "Under no circumstances shall political posters, signs, banners, or any writing which promotes a political issue, cause position or candidate, be permanently posted in or on school board property.

"Political posters, etc. may be displayed in or on school board property while the facility is actually being used by a political group. When such use is terminated, all political signage must be removed."

Volusia County Public Schools added in a statement: "In general, the School Board has an obligation to provide politically neutral campuses for all students, and its policies are fairly enforced to prevent school grounds from becoming partisan endorsements of either candidate.

"We allow political expression by students in the form of a T-shirt or bumper sticker. But large signage is a different situation. A passerby could interpret a large sign in a school parking lot to be an endorsement by the school district.

"We don't allow our parking lots to be used for political statements."

elephant
The lawsuit states the student “is unwilling to surrender his First Amendment right to freedom of expression” in exchange for permission to drive to school without his elephant statue. Goldwater Institute