Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityACLU files grievance against Wimberley ISD over LGBTQ logo dispute | KEYE
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ACLU files grievance against Wimberley ISD over LGBTQ logo dispute

File image of Wimberley High School. (CBS Austin)
File image of Wimberley High School. (CBS Austin)
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The months-long battle between parents and Wimberley ISD continues, after the ACLU filed a grievance against the school district on behalf of a parent.

CBS Austin exclusively obtained the copy of the grievance letter sent. This is in response to the December letter Wimberley ISD sent to all parents informing them they have trademarked the Wimberley High School logo and will issue a cease and desist letter to anyone who does not take down images of an altered version of the logo against the backdrop of a LGBTQ Pride flag.

Earlier in the month, the ACLU warned the district to retract this letter before they took further action, saying it's a violation of the First Amendment. The grievance was filed because this letter has not yet been retracted, and the district has not given any indication it will take such action.

So far, the district has not issued any cease and desist letters, but the ACLU says parents have already taken down altered logo images.

"The district has already chilled people's First Amendment rights. People who have put up this logo to express support for LGBTQ students, a lot of them have already taken it down for fear of legal retaliation and lawsuits filed against them," said ACLU lawyer Brian Klosterboer.

The altered logo at the center of this conflict first appeared in September, during Wimberley's first ever LGBTQ Pride Parade.

Bryan Burke, whose daughter is a Wimberley High School student, is the parent named in the grievance letter.

"The reason why this group of parents created the logo with the rainbow colors in the first place was to support LGBTQ kids in the school district, and that's it. There was no profit being made from it," Burke said. "[The letter] has an oppressive effect on those who are exercising their free speech."

The logo caught the school district's attention after a school board member wore a shirt with the altered logo on it the day of the parade and posted a picture of it on Facebook.

Shortly after, the district issued the following letter to parents:

"If a non-school related group alters and uses the official marks/logo of Wimberley ISD accompanied by text, it would suggest to the viewer, that Wimberley ISD endorses the group's activities. The Board of Trustees, acting as governing board, and any Wimberley ISD administrator, in a position of authority, will always protect the official marks/logo of Wimberley ISD and will not approve the brand's use in any altered format."

The ACLU sent a letter to the district in October warning them against taking action against this school board member, saying it would be a violation of First Amendment rights.

In November, the Wimberley ISD Board of Trustees voted not to add protections for LGBTQ students in district nondiscrimination policies.

At issue with parents like Burke is the fact Wimberley ISD obtained the trademark on the logo after the altered logo with the Pride Flag gained attention, while businesses in town have been granted permission to use the high school's logo for commercial purposes.

"We've thought from the beginning it's selective enforcement. They didn't go for a trademark and copyright and make all of these efforts to shore up this logo before," Burke said.

In a public information request, CBS Austin learned Wimberley ISD has spent more than $16,000 total between obtaining the trademark and lawyers fees for all matters regarding the logo since September.

CBS Austin has reached out to Superintendent Dwain York for each update to this story, but he has not been available for any sit-down interviews. We spoke with him over the phone briefly Monday, but he said he cannot comment on the grievance filed.

We emailed a series of questions more than a week ago, to get them screened for a possible interview, but the school district's lawyers cite the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act - or FERPA - as to why York cannot answer those questions.

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Under Wimberley ISD guidelines, York has to provide a written response to Burke and the ACLU within ten days, while also scheduling a hearing for them in that time period. If this issue is still not resolved, Burke and the ACLU can file an appeal to get a hearing with the school board, who may or may not take action on the issue.

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