Law & Courts

State Must Pay $155,000 in Case Over Disinvited Conference Speaker

By Mark Walsh — May 15, 2007 1 min read
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A Massachusetts state judge has awarded $155,000 in fees and costs to the education author Alfie Kohn, who won a ruling last year that his rights were infringed by state officials who objected to his planned speech at a conference.

Mr. Kohn had been invited to address a conference being underwritten by a state-administered federal grant. But a state official objected to his planned speech against standardized testing, and the invitation was rescinded.

Judge Hiller B. Zobel of state superior court in Cambridge, Mass., ruled last July that the state’s actions had violated Mr. Kohn’s First Amendment free-speech rights. (“Mass. Violated Rights of Disinvited Speaker,” Aug. 30, 2006.)

On May 3, Judge Zobel awarded Mr. Kohn and three other plaintiffs in the case $150,000 in lawyers’ fees and some $5,000 in costs. The judge also granted an injunction that bars the state defendants from withholding or denying money for conferences unless a speaker’s proposed topic is clearly not related to the subject of the conference.

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See other stories on education issues in Massachusetts. See data on Massachusetts’ public school system.

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A version of this article appeared in the May 16, 2007 edition of Education Week

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