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Parent sues school district, says she lost job over opinion

May 4, 2021 GMT

ROCHESTER, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit parent who has been outspoken about getting kids back inside schools during the pandemic claims she lost her job after a school board member complained to her employer.

Elena Dinverno said she also received a case-and-desist letter from the Rochester district because of her advocacy. She filed a lawsuit Monday against the district, saying she faced illegal retaliation for expressing free speech.

“This is a government entity for which you are entitled to your First Amendment rights unless someone is using threatening language,” said Dinverno’s attorney, Deborah Gordon. “But over offering up an opinion? They have zero business policing her speech.”

Dinverno has participated in Facebook groups that were in favor of reopening schools for in-person instruction. She said she frequently questioned the school board’s decisions.

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Dinverno alleges that in December she was fired as marketing director at Blake’s Hard Cider in Armada after school board president Kristin Bull contacted her boss.

The lawsuit states that Bull last fall had threatened to yank Andrew Blake from Crain’s Detroit Business’ “40 Under 40” honors. Bull works at Crain’s.

School district spokeswoman Lori Grein said the allegations are “false and unfounded,” though she declined to offer any details.

Lisa Rudy, an associate publisher of Crain’s Detroit Business, declined to comment on the allegations. A voicemail seeking comment was left for Blake.