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One of the students, senior Michael Escobar, said it took a week for the administrators to give back the petitions, and, even then, not everything was returned.

"That freaked some of the students out," he said. "Some are ninth graders. You tell them you're putting something in their files and they think, Shoot, I'm not going to be able to go to college."'

Whatever the case, the kerfuffle marks the second rough patch in recent months for Animo Leadership and the highly regarded Green Dot organization, whose schools are concentrated mostly in the low income areas of south Los Angeles County. In September, Animo Leadership was among just two schools in Los Angeles County to have its test scores disqualified by the state for an incident in which a teacher was caught cheating. (Administrators at the school caught and reported the teacher themselves.)


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There, Murcia and Assistant Principal Alyce Prentice confiscated their petitions. Students say the administrators also ordered them to write a statement explaining the intent of their petition and whether their actions had been prompted by somebody else, in particular any teachers. Those statements Fred Perry Long Sleeve Polo Blue

The current dispute began on May 1, when a group of about seven students started gathering signatures to demand the reinstatement of Sonia Del Pino, a social science teacher and the department chair. The students say they solicited the signatures just outside the school entrance before first period.

were then placed in the students' files, said Mark Friedman, a teacher at the school.

The students and civil rights organizations accuse administrators of confiscating petitions, intimidating students and their parents, trying to place a gag order on the fired teacher and refusing to apologize.

"The administration of Animo Leadership Charter School should be ashamed of itself for its blatant violation of its students' constitutional rights to free assembly and free speech," James Lafferty, director of the National Lawyers Guild, said in a statement.

´╗┐Animo Leadership Charter High School students say officials intimidated them

"They confiscated seven clipboards, with two petition papers on each," he said. "We only received seven petitions back."

As for Del Pino, students say she was fired for failing to meet Green Dot's definition of an effective instructor. The student protesters beg to differ, saying test scores in her class have doubled in the past year.

"There was no petitioning on school time or on school property," he said.

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Shortly before the bell rang, the students say they were putting their petitions away and walking onto the campus when the principal, Julio Murcia who had been watching their activity summoned them Lacoste Polo Sale Ebay to his office.

What started as an internal dust up over a fired teacher at Animo Leadership Charter High School in Lennox has blown up into a battle over freedom of speech involving the ACLU and National Lawyers Guild.

He said some students have stated in affidavits taken by the ACLU that the phone call prompted their parents to prohibit them from attending the rally at Lennox Park, which drew about 250 students.

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On the other hand, Friedman said that about 200 teachers about a third of the entire Green Dot faculty have signed petitions in support of the fired teacher at the various schools, including 24 of the 25 teachers at Animo Leadership. (About 100 Animo Leadership parents also signed a petition.)

Although Del Pino could not be reached for comment, the Daily Breeze obtained a letter she wrote to Green Dot administrators that has been circulating through the school community via email. In it, she said she rejects the administration's proposal "that I not speak to my colleagues and (union) members as this is an undemocratic gag rule that would make it impossible to effectively defend myself without their input and support."

"We fully believe in everybody's democratic right to express themselves," said Gabriel Sanchez, spokesman for Green Dot Public Schools, the parent organization that oversees Animo Leadership and 17 other charter schools throughout Los Angeles County. "We did not stop that in any way."

The dispute began with the firing of a popular social science teacher in March, but the controversy erupted early this month after students on campus tried to protest the termination.

Administrators actually confiscated property from the students two times on May 1. The second incident happened after school. Students again began gathering signatures on the sidewalk in front of the school. This time, an administrator took their clipboards, but not the petitions, Friedman said.

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on both sides of the issue. (Zurzolo did not return a call from the Daily Breeze seeking comment.)

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The teacher's termination letter also reportedly came with a gag order.

"It is unimaginable to me that in 2012, a school that claims to be an institution of leadership training' would be either so ignorant of the law of the land, or so contemptuous of it, as to deny its students their constitutional right to petition and assemble on the public sidewalks of this nation."

School administrators say the claims are overblown, and lament that personnel confidentiality laws prohibit sharing their side of the story, effectively putting them at a disadvantage. They admit to taking petitions, but say they returned them to the students and never quashed their efforts to gather Printed Work Polo Shirts Uk

It's unclear what side Green Dot's teachers union is taking. On the one hand, the president, Arielle Zurzolo, is supporting the administration, according to sources Lacoste Polo Shirts Mens Clothing

The discord has caused enough of a stir to provoke Marco Petruzzi, Green Dot's president and CEO, to send an email to the entire 18 school organization. (Petruzzi did not return a call from the Daily Breeze seeking comment.)

"While I fully endorse the right of our students to free speech and expression, I would like to remind everyone that many of our students face already daunting odds to succeed in college, leadership and life, as per the statistics that we see nationally," he said in the Wednesday message. "I find that involving them in personnel issues is unfair to them as the actual facts cannot be disclosed and it distracts them from the difficult path they have ahead. I would encourage everyone to keep our organization focused on putting the needs of our children first, and keep adult issues among adults."

The students and teachers also accuse administrators of intimidating parents with an automated phone message that went out to all the school's families the night before a student organized rally about the matter on May 7. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. "The implication is something is going to happen there."

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