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Federal jury considers schools’ ban on news reporter

A Buchanan County news reporter is trying to convince a jury that county school leaders improperly banned him from school property because they didn’t like his stories.

Earl Cole, publisher of The Voice, claims that the school board defamed him and violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, reports the Bristol Herald-Courier.

The Buchanan County School Board passed the resolution that banned Cole from school property in Oct. 2006, shortly after he published an article that was critical of one of its memebers.

The school board maintains that the ban was in response to the concerns of teachers and parents of students. Board members claim that Cole failed to abide by the school policy that requires visitors to sign in, and that he had taken unauthorized photographs.

The case will be decided by a federal jury on Friday. Cole is seeking $650,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

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