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Community college system resolves free speech suit

NORFOLK (AP) The Virginia community college system has agreed to pay $25,000 to resolve a student’s free-speech lawsuit.

Thomas Nelson Community College student Christian Parks sued the college system in March. The lawsuit said Parks’ free-speech rights were violated when campus police ordered him to stop preaching in a courtyard at the Hampton school.

A proposed final decree was filed last week in federal court. As part of the decree, the college system promised to not place unreasonable limits on student speech.

Attorney Travis Barham with the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom tells The Virginian-Pilot that the case resulted in greater freedom of expression for students. The group represented Parks.

The college system’s governing board voted in April to eliminate so-called free speech zones, which confined student expression to designated areas.

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