17-year-old career center student punished for talking politics while on bus

School implemented 'no politics' rule
Posted at 7:00 PM, Nov 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-14 05:49:46-05

A 17-year-old Wayne County Career Center Student was "written up" after talking about politics and the presidential election, the student told News 5. 

Charlie Galanski said the incident happened on Friday during his bus ride home from the career center.

The bus driver, identified in a cellphone video as Mr. Cole, told students about the new 'no politics talk' rule on Wednesday, the day following the election. Cole warned that anyone who violated the rule would face punishment.

Galanski told News 5 a small group of students on the bus continued the politics discussion for the next three days. But on the third day, Galanski was written up for the discussion.

Cole explained the punishment to Galanski's father, William, on Friday afternoon. The conversation was recorded on the student's cellphone. 

In the video the bus driver can be heard saying the rule came from his boss, Kurt Miller, the Wooster City Schools Transportation Supervisor.

"It has problems with other students on the bus. People voted for this person, people voted for that person. It becomes so loud and they hurt other people’s feelings about it and then get upset," the driver said.

Galanski said he disagrees with the rule. 

“It’s crazy. I think I should be knowing the goods and bads of politics. I think knowing what’s going on is better than staying ignorant and not knowing," the student said. 

In the recording the student's father questions the driver on the legality of the rule. “So in other words, you’re taking away the right to freedom of speech from these kids," he said.

Regarding the First Amendment, the Supreme Court has said students in school as well as out of school are ‘persons’ under our Constitution.” That means that they possess First Amendment rights to express themselves in several ways.

However, public school students do not possess unlimited First Amendment rights. 

In the Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District case the Supreme Court said, "our problem lies in the area where students in the exercise of First Amendment rights collide with the rules of the school authorities.”

William told News 5, if necessary, he's prepared to take the issue to court.

“I do have a good attorney if I have to. I just think they’re going too far with tell these kids they can’t speak," he said.

News 5 has reached out to Miller and the school district about the incident. So far, we have not received a response.