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Court says school board that banned SW Va. reporter from school grounds must pay $200,000

Staff Report • Oct 16, 2009 at 12:00 AM

A federal jury on Thursday awarded $200,000 to a Buchanan County reporter who sued the county school board, saying it improperly barred him from school property.

Earl Cole said he angered the school board by writing and publishing critical articles in The Voice, a twice-monthly newspaper for which Cole serves as a reporter, photographer and publisher. The final straw, Cole said in a court filing, was his documenting a board member dropping off his children at a school not in his district.

In October 2006, the board voted to bar Cole from school property, and he sued them for violating his First Amendment rights. The board said Cole seemed to be trying to hide outside a school and take pictures of students, and said it banned him because of safety concerns.

Read the full report at the Roanoke Times' Web site.

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