College President Paying For Free-Speech Violation 7 Years Later

January 15, 2015

By Bob Kellogg at OneNewsNow

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated a lawsuit filed by a Georgia student. The case over the violation of the student’s First Amendment rights has already been very costly for a former college president.

Former Voldosta State University student Hayden Barnes has already been awarded $50,000 based on a due process ruling. Robert Shibley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says Barnes was expelled by then college president Ronald Zaccari because of something he posted on Facebook. Barnes’ Facebook comment made fun of Zaccari’s plans to spend student fee money to build two parking garages on campus.

“Zaccari labeled Hayden Barnes ‘a clear and present danger’ and merely expelled him,” Shibley explains. “Hayden Barnes was a student in 2008, and the case has been going up and down from the appeals court ever since.”

Zaccari has since retired, but Shibley says Zaccari has been held personally responsible for the $50,000 and could face further judgments amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It’s important to send a message to college administrators that this is actually on them when they violate the constitution,” he tells OneNewsNow. “They can’t continue to expect the public to pay for their mistakes.”

Schools: Valdosta State University Cases: Valdosta State University: Student Expelled for Peacefully Protesting Parking Garages