A student election dispute in Declo

A Declo High School senior and her mother have filed a civil rights complaint against the Cassia County School District, saying she was unjustly barred from running for student body president.

Sierra Norman says she was the victim of gender and religious discrimination. School officials contend Norman was taking too many dual-credit classes to qualify as a full-time student, The Times-News in Twin Falls reported Tuesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s Idaho office has taken up the case, filing Monday’s complaint.

The crux of the issue goes back to last spring, and Norman’s courseload when she decided to run for student body president.

The school says Norman was not enrolled in six non-online classes, and was not a full-time student who was eligible to run for student government.

But in the complaint, the ACLU says a male student was allowed to run for student body president — and he was not taking six non-online classes either. The male student also was attending Mormon Church seminary classes, the ACLU said, while Norman was not taking a religious release class.

The Cassia County School Board met with Norman and her mother in closed executive session last spring, and told the schools to review their constitutions to determine what defines a full-time student, district spokeswoman Debbie Critchfiled told the Times-News. Declo has a committee working on this issue.

“With increased academic opportunities for students beyond the traditional classroom setting, a review of student academic requirements is appropriate and timely,” Critchfield said.

Norman had hoped to serve as student body president to bolster her credentials for admission to Harvard University or another Ivy League institution, The Times-News reported.

“I want to make sure no other student has to go through what I did with Declo High School,” Norman said in an ACLU news release. “While I will not be able to positively impact my school as student body president, I can stand up for student’s rights and impact schools all across Idaho.”


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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