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VICTORY: After ͼ threatens lawsuit, Uvalde school district lifts ban on father who questioned school safety 

ͼ plaintiff Adam Martinez

Nycole Knoxx

Adam Martinez was banned from Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District property for two years for questioning the qualifications of a recently hired school district police officer.

  • Uvalde school district officials banned Adam Martinez from school property and school board meetings for two years

UVALDE, Texas, July 7, 2023 — The Uvalde school district has lifted its ban on a concerned parent after the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression stood up for his right to speak out at school board meetings.

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District banned Adam Martinez, a father of two students, from district property for two years for questioning the qualifications of a recently hired school district police officer. In May, ͼ sent a letter threatening to sue if the district did not lift the unconstitutional ban. Yesterday, the school district confirmed it is lifting the ban and Martinez is allowed on school property once again.

“All I’ve ever wanted was to speak my mind and be a voice for my community,” said Martinez. “I’m thankful to ͼ for taking my case, and look forward to holding our local leaders accountable.”

“ͼ was ready and willing to sue to protect Mr. Martinez’s First Amendment rights,” said ͼ attorney Conor Fitzpatrick. “Thankfully, the Uvalde school district backed down and lifted its unconstitutional ban.”

One of Martinez’s children was at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022, when a former student fatally shot 19 students and 2 teachers and injured 17 others. His child was physically unharmed. In the wake of the tragedy and police’s failure to intervene for over an hour, the school district and .

Martinez, concerned about his children’s safety, is a vocal critic of some of the Uvalde school district’s decisions as it rebuilds its police department. He started a local group that organized fundraisers for victims of the shooting, engages in community service in Uvalde, and advocates for improvements in school safety. Martinez has spoken out online, at school board meetings, and directly with Uvalde administrators in support of these goals.

COURTESY PHOTOS OF ADAM MARTINEZ

In February 2023, after emailing the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office, Martinez discovered the school district had recently hired an officer whom the sheriff’s office deemed ineligible for rehire. 

At a school board meeting on Feb. 13, , who was standing along the wall of the meeting room, to express his concerns about the hire. Gutierrez listened at first — but when it became clear that Martinez was criticizing him, he told Martinez to sit down. Concerned about his children’s safety and wanting answers, Martinez continued the conversation rather than take a seat. 

As of the school board meeting demonstrates, Martinez and Gutierrez’s conversation remained quiet and did not disrupt the proceedings in any way. Nevertheless, Gutierrez told Martinez and his family to leave the meeting, and verbally banned Martinez from school district property.

The following day, Interim Superintendent Gary Patterson notified Martinez that if he set foot on school district property in the next two years, the school district could have him arrested. The letter falsely claimed that Martinez’s behavior at the school board meeting was “disrupting and/or disturbing.”

The district relented only after ͼ threatened a lawsuit on Martinez’s behalf. Now, as a result of the agreement, Martinez will be treated like any other parent and is free to attend future school board meetings to make his voice heard.

“The school district’s administrators overstepped their authority,” said ͼ attorney Josh Bleisch. “We’re glad they finally came to their senses, but it shouldn’t take the threat of a lawsuit to remind them that the Constitution does not allow them to use their power to silence their critics.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (ͼ) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought — the most essential qualities of liberty. ͼ educates Americans about the importance of these inalienable rights, promotes a culture of respect for these rights, and provides the means to preserve them.

CONTACT:

Alex Griswold, Communications Campaign Manager, ͼ: 215-717-3473; media@thefire.org

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