A former Rogers High School student who was suspended last year for sending a two-word tweet can move forward with his lawsuit against school officials and the police chief.
Federal Judge John Tunheim Tuesday rejected a request from the defendants to dismiss the lawsuit which was filed by Reid Sagehorn, according to the Star Tribune.
Tunheim ruled there were grounds for Sagehorn's complaints that the school district may have violated his First Amendment rights and defamed him.
Sagehorn received a seven-week suspension from Rogers High School for the tweet, which he sent in January 2014. When asked online about a rumor that he “made out” with a 28-year-old teacher, Sagehorn responded “actually, yeah,” and the message was posted to Twitter.
Sagehorn said the response was sarcasm, but the school quickly suspended him for five days for causing damage to the teacher’s reputation.
The suspension was then extended to 10 days, and then extended again to two months, which sparked an outcry of support for Sagehorn, who was a senior at the time and the captain of the football and basketball teams.
Police also investigated the tweet, but the Hennepin County attorney’s office declined to file criminal charges due to insufficient evidence.
What the lawsuit claims
In the lawsuit, which was filed in June 2014, Sagehorn claims the defendants linked his name with criminal activity and took away his right to privacy and free speech.
The lawsuit also claims the defendants forced Sagehorn to withdraw from Rogers High School and negatively impacted his future educational and occupational opportunities.
Sagehorn is seeking monetary damages and other forms of legal relief.
Named in the suit were Rogers Schools Superintendent Mark Bezek; Assistant Superintendent Jana Hennen-Burr, Rogers Police Chief Jeffrey Beahen and police officer Stephen Sarazin.
Tunheim ruled the suit can continue against all of them except Sarazin.
The police investigation confirmed that Sagehorn and the teacher did not have a relationship, according to KSTP.
Sagehorn enrolled in a different high school and graduated from there in 2014.