who got their knickers in a twist
because you have a student
who isn't deferential to them 24 hours a day."
-- Conservative Texas Blogger
"Anyone who understands
what it means to be an American
owes Ms. Doninger their unconditional support."
-- California Blogger
"There is some poetic justice in the appeal being funded, in part, online."
-- Connecticut Blogger
By JACQUELINE MANNING
The Bristol Press
BURLINGTON -- Support, both financial and moral, for Avery Doninger's appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has spread across the country.
Doninger is seeking an injunction to overturn the 2008 class officer election results of Lewis S. Mills High School on the grounds that school officials unconstitutionally denied her candidacy. Although she won the election with write-in votes by her classmates, school officials still refuse to allow her to take the 2008 class secretary position.
Doninger alleges she was stripped of her junior class secretary title and not allowed to run for senior class office because she exercised her right to free speech and expressed a grievance on a blog site from her home computer.
On Aug. 31, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Kravitz denied Doninger's motion for a temporary injunction, issuing a 34-page memorandum on his ruling 45 minutes after the close of court.
"A battle is lost, the war is not over," said Avery's mother, Lauren. "We now head to the 2nd Circuit to appeal the denial and continue to seek injunctive relief. Additionally, we will file trial paperwork. Unlike the very rushed hearing, this will be a jury trial."
With the appeal expected to cost approximately $20,000, not including payment to attorney John Schoenhorn for his representation, Doninger set up an online donation site. She did not expect support for her appeal would ripple across the nation.
Rod Peña, who maintains the blog site http://aheroaday.squarespace.com with his wife Beth, from Orange County, Calif., recently named the Burlington student the hero of the day and posted a link to her 2nd Circuit Appeal fund site. The blog site frequently highlights the work of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations and makes it a point not to establish links on their behalf, Peña said. However, the couple made an exception for Avery's case.
"Free speech is our most important right, and the cornerstone of humanity's most influential document, the U.S. Constitution," Peña said. "A loss at 2nd Circuit Court could represent a further erosion of such a right, and anyone who understands what it means to be an American owes Ms. Doninger their unconditional support."
Greg Aydt, a world history high school teacher and right-wing conservative from Houston, Texas, also posted a link to Doninger's fund on his site, http://rhymeswithright.mu.nu. He said he put the link on his site because very often he sees school administrators take a very narrow and cramped view of students' rights.
"When you are in your home at [9 p.m.] on your computer, that's not a place the school has any right to intrude, unless it presents a direct threat to student or school safety," Adyt said. "In this case, we have administrators who got their knickers in a twist because you have a student who isn't deferential to them 24 hours a day."
Woodbury resident Aldon Hynes, who maintains www.orient-lodge.com, has been sending word of the appeal fund on the information superhighway.
"There is some poetic justice in the appeal being funded, in part, online, since so much of this started online," Hynes said.
Donations to the Avery Doninger 2nd Circuit Appeal Fund may be sent to Jon L. Schoenhorn & Associates, LLC 108 Oak St. Hartford, CT 06106-1514. The memo on the check should say: "Avery Doninger appeal."