A registered sex offender has filed a lawsuit against the school board and a deputy in Stafford, County, Virginia, claiming his First Amendment rights were violated when he was kicked out of a meeting.
Melvin Allen was convicted in 2004 of attempting to take indecent liberties with children in an online chat room. He served 30 days in jail. As a registered sex offender, Allen is prohibited from being on a school campus.
In 2016, a school in Stafford County asked Allen to pick up his sick grandson from school. A deputy issued a no trespass order soon after and reminded Allen he was barred from school property.
A short time after that incident, Allen attended a school board meeting. Allen, a member of the local NAACP chapter, wanted to speak out at the meeting about a student disciplinary issue. A deputy at the meeting confronted Allen and kicked him out of the meeting.
Allen was criminally charged with trespassing and violating the statute that bars sex offender from school grounds.
"That's an incorrect reading of the statute. The statute prohibits him from being on a school campus," said Maxwelle Sokol, Allen's attorney.
The charges were later dropped.
Allen's lawsuit argues his civil rights were violated.
"You have a registered sex offender who has totally changed his life around... for him to have his freedom of speech chilled that's a big deal," Sokol said.
Allen and his attorneys underscored his NAACP membership, but the organization's leaders in Stafford stressed that they are not involved in the case.
Allen has since been allowed to attend school board meetings.
A spokesperson for the school system said they could not comment on legal matters.