State Watch

Florida student sues school for banning 'Trump' elephant on truck

A high school student in Florida is suing his school district, claiming that his parking pass was revoked when he refused to remove a display supporting President Trump.

Tyler Maxwell, 18, told Fox 35 News in Orlando that he and his father used a front-end loader to put a huge red, white and blue elephant figurine with "Trump" painted on it into the bed of his pickup truck.

Maxwell said his grandfather bought the elephant from an old car dealership and gave it to him before the 2016 election.

"I've been pretty excited for the last four years to be able to vote," Maxwell, who is voting in his first presidential election, told Fox 35 News.

The student drove to school with the elephant in the back of his truck on Sept. 14. He said he parked in the student parking lot and went to class.

Twenty minutes into his first class at Spruce Creek High School, Maxwell said he was called to the principal's office and was asked to move his car off campus.

His father then drove to the school to demand a reason in writing for why the student couldn't leave his car on campus with the elephant in the truck. After he said his father did not get a written explanation, Maxwell drove to school the next day with the figurine.

"Tuesday morning, my parking pass was taken away," Maxwell told the news outlet. 

His family then tapped Jacob Huebert, who works for the Goldwater Institute, a conservative and libertarian organization, to represent Maxwell.

Huebert filed a federal lawsuit against Volusia County Public Schools, arguing that the district violated Maxwell's First Amendment rights.

"It's a freedom of speech case. The question is should a student have to give up his free speech right when he drives onto school property," Huebert said. "The answer to that is no and the school just needs to realize that."

The school district said in a statement to Fox 35 Orlando that it has an "obligation to provide a politically neutral campus."

"We allow political expression by students in the form of a T-shirt or a bumper sticker. But large signage is a different situation," the statement read. "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."

The Hill has reached out to the school district for further comment.

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