A McKinney dad who was banned from school property after publicly criticizing local school district officials is suing the district for keeping him away from his kids’ on-campus activities for an entire school year. The district did this by issuing a criminal trespass citation that was recently ruled invalid.
Samuel Hall, a father of two students in McKinney Independent School District, filed a lawsuit accusing district officials of acting in concert to deprive Hall of his constitutionally protected right to free speech and, in the process, preventing him from fully participating in the education of his children.
Hall says McKinney ISD issued the citation banning him from all school property in retaliation for his criticism of district policies.
In April of 2022, Hall spoke at a school board meeting, criticizing the board’s failure to remove sexually explicit books from students’ libraries.
When he returned to speak at McKinney ISD’s May 2022 school board meeting, Hall was intercepted in the parking lot by a McKinney police sergeant working as a school resource officer and the district’s head of security. The police sergeant and the McKinney ISD head of security are both defendants in the lawsuit, along with their supervisors: the school board president and the district superintendent.
The officials said Hall would be arrested if he didn’t leave within three minutes and issued him a criminal trespass warning that barred him from McKinney ISD property “forever.”
Hall spent months attempting to challenge the district’s actions via the local grievance process. According to documents Hall obtained during that process, the sergeant acknowledged he had “already filled out” criminal trespass warnings for Hall and others who had “caused problems from previous School Board Meetings” by speaking against sexually explicit books in McKinney ISD schools.
Hall then appealed the district’s ban to the Texas Education Agency.
In April of this year, the TEA ruled Hall’s trespass citation was invalid, saying it would “severely impair his ability to partner in his children’s education.”
Hall announced his lawsuit during the June 27 McKinney ISD school board meeting, telling trustees he was going to hold district officials legally accountable for violations of his First Amendment rights and Texas Education Code ethics.
“I pray this doesn’t happen to other parents,” he said.
“If you’re a parent and something is going on, you don’t have to lie down and take it,” Hall said in a press briefing following the meeting. “Even under tremendous odds, you can win.”
“This family has been through hell for more than year, and McKinney ISD thinks they can just make it all go away by rescinding the criminal trespass,” Hall’s attorney Janelle Davis told Texas Scorecard. “But that does not undo the harm that has already happened to Sam and his family.”
Parents across the state are afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation by their school district or even other parents. It is our hope that this case will be an example to other districts that they cannot continue to trample on the rights of parents with impunity.
Davis added, “We hope to give courage to other parents to stand up to these abuses of power by school districts.”
Scorecard has contacted McKinney ISD and will update this article with any comment received from the district.