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Lawsuit filed against Falcon School District after two women were escorted from board meeting

FALCON, Colo. (KRDO) -- Falcon School District 49 and its school board president are facing a lawsuit, accused of violating free speech rights by two women who were escorted from a late February board meeting.

The lawsuit details the Feb. 22, 2023 incident when Debra Schmidt and Kelly Kohls were holding up signs with the words "Rick Lori John RESIGN."

Falcon School Board President John Graham said he noticed the two signs were being held up and asked the women to put the signs down.

"Thumbs up and thumbs down signs I don't care about, but if you want to do those signs, that is out of order for the meeting," Graham is heard saying on a recording for the February meeting. "You don't like it? You can be asked to leave or you can follow the rules of decorum."

When Schmidt and Kohls continued to hold them up, Graham can be heard calling for security.

"Security we have people holding up the signs that they were told not to hold up as other people have been told not to hold up," said Graham during the recorded meeting.

Graham claims he has spoken up consistently every time he sees a sign, telling the individuals to put the signs down.

Attorney Curt Hartman, who represents the two women in a lawsuit, argues that is a direct violation of First Amendment rights.

"They didn't go screaming they simply held up an eight and a half by 11 sheet of paper in front of them saying calling upon the three members of the board to resign," said Hartman.

Their lawsuit explains why they believe the actions are unconstitutional.

"The viewpoint, you know, was really the driving, we believe the driving factor in terms of the speech being stifled," said Hartman.

The incident is also sparking outrage from school board member Ivy Liu, who was at the center of controversy herself back in November, after quoting Hitler in a Facebook post about critical race theory.

She said the situation was handled very differently when she was called on to resign.

"They were standing up and they were allowed to do so the entire time," said Liu. "The only time they were told to do something different was when some of the people that held the newspaper signs started rattling them when our side was speaking."

Over the phone, Graham said he does not believe this is a violation of first amendment rights, because the school board has the power to create rules for conduct in board meetings.

Watch the full February 22, 2023 board of education meeting below:

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Annabelle Childers

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