Reid Sagehorn sues following suspension from Rogers High for tweet about kissing teacher

Categories: Education, Law
Reid Sagehorn picture via Jacki V. Seniors
In late January, somebody posted this tweet on an online forum called "Roger confessions" -- "did @R_Sagehorn3 actually make out with [name of female school teacher]."

Reid Sagehorn himself sarcastically replied, "Actually yeah." A suspension and school transfer later, Sagehorn is now suing Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen, Elk River School District Superintendent Mark Bezek, Rogers High School Principal Roman Pierskalla, Assistant Superintendent Jana Henne-Burr, and police liaison Stephen Sarazin in federal court for the allegedly overzealous way they handled his punishment.

See also:
Reid Sagehorn won't be charged for tweet about kissing a teacher

We detailed the backstory in this post.

The lawsuit itself contains a few new interesting details. For one, it discusses how, on February 5, two days after Principal Pierskalla and Officer Sarazin first made Sagehorn aware that they knew of his social media post, Sagehorn went to the girls locker room to visit the office of the teacher in question and apologize. But she wasn't there, and Sagehorn eventually had to content himself with writing her a letter of apology instead.

The suit also talks about how after administrators decided to suspend Reid until April 22, Superintendent Bezek and Assistant Superintendent Hennen-Burr allegedly threatened Sagehorn with expulsion for the rest of the school year if he and his family requested a hearing about the suspension in front of a hearing officer.

"Superintendent Bezek and Assistant Superintendent Hennen-Burr represented to the Sagehorns at the meeting that any expulsion, particular one to the end of the year, would likely cause North Dakota State University to retract its acceptance of Reid for the Fall 2014," the lawsuit says. "Further draconian consequences were implied and understood by the Sagehorns."

Allegedly compelled by threats of that sort, Sagehorn and his family eventually signed a document stating, "We agree that Reid will be withdrawn from school from February 14, 2014-April 17, 2014." He later transferred to another high school to finish out the school year.

The lawsuit accuses the aforementioned officials of violating Sagehorn's constitutional rights. Sagehorn's lawyers -- Robert Bennett, Joseph Friedberg, and Ron Rosenbaum -- are seeking a jury trial and unspecified financial damages.

Asked how much they're seeking, Bennett tells us, "That's the jury's purview." With regard to whether a settlement is possible before it gets to that point, he says, "Theoretically, that's possible."

The lawsuit also takes aim at the law enforcement officers involved for forwarding police reports about Sagehorn's social media post to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office for possible criminal charges, and for saying on the record that such charges could be forthcoming. (Police Chief Beahen later admitted he "erred" in doing so, according to the suit.)

"Reid Sagehorn's conduct did not constitute a crime," the lawsuit says. "Nor would it be reasonable for a trained officer to believe that Reid's conduct constituted a crime."

The specific charges include First Amendment violations, supervisory liability, unconstitutional custom and pattern of practice, Fourteenth Amendment violations, and defamation. To read the court filing for yourself, click to page two.

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Brian Boshea
Brian Boshea

If you can't do the time, don't so the crime

Tricia Barthel
Tricia Barthel

As a young high school female teacher, I wouldn't appreciate any "sarcastic" social media comment that could potentially mess with my professional reputation. It's refreshing to see school districts protect their teachers and not have tolerance for reputation altering antics from students. My two cents....

Rebecca A. Fore
Rebecca A. Fore

I bet if you were the teacher you'd think differently Sophie Ray.

Dave Birckelbaw
Dave Birckelbaw

Poor judgement of this type should not end in this level of punishment and/or the resulting drag-out and potential funds that this will take away from educational purposes. That said, he doesn't help his cause by being photographed in front of graffiti. Sad that we do not get press coverage on the outstanding academics of students at his school.

Sophie Ray
Sophie Ray

He was a high school kid being sarcastic. Most are. This is a total overreaction on the part of school and law enforcement. Furthermore, the teacher should have had nothing to worry about... for the same reasons. Everything is a CRISIS now days.

Rebecca A. Fore
Rebecca A. Fore

He insinuated that a crime was commited by a teacher. He deserved every damn bit of it. Do you people think you can run into a crowded movie theater and scream fire? The little schmuck clearly didn't learn his lesson and his parents must also enjoy helping their son play victim. He made his bed.

James Mason
James Mason

Surprised at their restraint, actually. Would assume a tweet like that merits full SWAT team, evacuation of school, and full body cavity searches for all students.

Travis Peterson
Travis Peterson

Hope the school and police chief go down. Over reacted on this one and now they will have to pay

swmnguy topcommenter

The story I read indicated the school was tipped off to the kid's posting by someone, presumably a parent, who flipped out and decided there was a big sex scandal going on.

Rather than behave like responsible adults, the school Administrators immediately panicked and handled everything about 100% wrong.  They brought in the police before applying the least bit of critical reasoning or considering that kids are dumbasses and say things the consequences of which they do not understand; development of the pre-frontal cortex being one of the last stages of developmental maturity and all.

So the school, with the cops, went after the teacher.  The teacher, naturally having no idea what the hell was going on, went to her representatives at the Union, who could force the school and the cops to stop and think and maybe make some sense, or face the Union's lawyers.

Naturally, the next thing the Police Chief did was take a page right out of the Mike Freeman playbook and go to the media and say all kinds of inflammatory things.  Except at least Mike Freeman is smart and covers his bases before he uses the media to smear people and taint public opinion.  This guy Beahen, by contrast, is by his own actions a very stupid person.

Had the cops and the school taken, say, 24 hours to think things over and consider the actual evidence in front of them, this would have completely blown over and they could have handled it the way responsible adults would have.  They could have made the kid apologize to the teacher, gone after the other kids who were running a scurrilous website, and everything would have learned just a little something, and they could have kept the whole thing the quiet non-event it actually was.

But no, they'd already spent the first 24 hours running around in a blind panic, flinging shit all over, and creating a stink they couldn't back away from.  That's when they started threatening the kid and saying they'd get NDSU to rescind his acceptance, and all kinds of stuff like that.  No doubt they offered a confidentiality agreement so he wouldn't be able to tell anybody how badly they'd fucked everything up immediately.

They all, every single one of them, deserve to be fired immediately.  If the District and the City won't do it, then they can pay this kid up the wazoo and raise local property taxes to cover the cost.  Then they can answer to the voters about it at the next election.  Except dilrods like this will use municipal insurance to cover up their own incompetence.

Truth_Teller_1 topcommenter

This kid had his rights violated. It the teacher wants to sue him for slander - then she should.

However the thugs that run our government schools would like nothing better that to control the inmates - sorry I mean students - 24/7.   What was done was not on school property - they have no authority over what a student does after hours. 

Then we have the thug / militarized polize.  Who are looking to assert their phoney authority on people who jay walk or litter, etc.

I hope the kid  wins and gets a boat load of money!


Did anything happen to the teacher? If she can back up the story about the apology some people are in for a bad time.

digitalprotocol topcommenter

how stupid is this hick police chief!  

1st amendment way better than cowardly 2nd amendment 

midwestexplorer81 topcommenter

When I was in middle school and high school my friends and I would say all kinds of raunchy things about our teachers, classmates, janitors, and anybody. I guarantee the boys in your class have made naughty jokes about you (probably the girls too). If you can't handle people talking trash behind your back you chose the wrong career Mrs. Barthel. Kids at times are some of the most insensitive careless people on the planet, you chose to work with them, they didn't choose you.

Truth_Teller_1 topcommenter

"It's refreshing to see school districts protect their teachers and not have tolerance for reputation altering antics from students"

Unfortunately, Ed degrees aren't very enlightening.  There is such a thing as the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The government school you work for, does not have (not yet, but they would like to) the right to suppress or violate the rights of the inmates (sorry, students).

Government schools are funded by taxes.  The students have a right to attend - and that right cannot be abridged just because you don't like what the student does outside of school.

The teacher can sue the student for slander.  It's not a school issue.


dumbass... insinuation is not illegal.  

do you really think students should be expelled for the words "actually yes"?  on what fucking planet do you live on?  I sincerely hope your life becomes hard in the near future, that someone over reacts, makes up criminal charges, and upsets your plans for the next 5 years.  you deserve that for your complete stupidity.  

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