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Lawsuits filed against Kellogg School District

| August 28, 2023 1:00 AM

KELLOGG — The Kellogg School District is facing two lawsuits stemming from a highly publicized incident earlier this year after a student made a controversial statement during an assembly.

One lawsuit was filed by Dakota Mailloux in July, and the other by Travis Lohr in August.

Lohr was the driving force behind the controversy when he told the student body, “Guys are guys and girls are girls. There is no in-between,” during an assembly when members of the senior class were given the opportunity to offer their younger classmates advice. Despite contrary comments made previously by Lohr, the statements were, in fact, reviewed by teachers before the assembly, and students were told to “stay on script,” concerning the advice that they planned to give.

Reportedly, when Lohr did not abide by this he was spoken to by Kellogg High School principal Dan Davidian before school had let out for the day. Davidian then called Lohr’s mother and left the following message: “Travis made a very inappropriate comment today at the PRIDE assembly that we had for PBIS and made a comment related to the gay community. He made it clear he had changed what he was originally going to say. He was very rude and made a comment which was very inappropriate, so where we are at right now is he’ll be suspended from school tomorrow and he will get his high school diploma but he will not walk. He will not be allowed to go to the graduation ceremony on Saturday.”

According to the lawsuit, the school’s actions violated Lohr’s constitutional rights to free speech, which was further challenged because pro-LGBTQ views have not been handled in a similar fashion. This includes teachers displaying Pride flags in their classrooms, as well as a student club centered on being pro-LGBTQ.

Lohr also has claimed that a job offer he had received from the U.S. Forest Service was rescinded in the wake of the entire ordeal. According to the suit, he alleges that confidential school information was “clandestinely and maliciously” given to his potential employer by the district or someone associated with it.

Lohr’s goal is to have the district admit that his First Amendment rights were violated, purge his student record of the violation and pay him damages following a jury trial.

Mailloux’s suit is tied directly to his participation in a community protest of the school’s decision concerning Lohr’s suspension that took place on June 2 of this year.

Mailloux was a bus driver for KSD, but was terminated June 2.

Mailloux claims in the suit that, while he was at the protest, he received a phone call from supervisor Cory North, who instructed him to come to his office immediately.

According to court documents, upon arrival at the transportation office, he was told by North that he had no business being at the protest and was fired at the request of KSD superintendent Lance Pearson.

Court documents also say that Mailloux was told that because his employment was at-will, he could be fired at any time.

Concerning U.S. labor law, at-will employment gives an employer the ability to dismiss an employee for any reason, and without warning, as long as the reason is not illegal.

Mailloux was reportedly not on KSD time while he attended the protest and his actions there merely reflected “differences between Mr. Mailloux and the school administration as to the preferable manner of operating district schools.”

As part of the suit, Mailloux is asking for his position to be reinstated, to recoup back pay and benefits, as well as recover additional damages.

Both Lohr and Mailloux are represented by attorney Katherine Hartley with the Pacific Justice Institute.

The Pacific Justice Institute is a conservative legal nonprofit that offers free legal support in matters primarily concerning religious freedoms, parental rights and other civil liberties. The Southern Poverty Law Center has PJI currently designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

Kellogg School District did not respond to any request for comments.