In December, parents of four Round Rock High School students who were arrested for violating a curfew law when they were taking part in a pro-immigration rally filed a class action lawsuit against the city, saying that the arrests violated the students' First Amendment rights to free assembly. Last week, the suit was settled.
Bringing an end to a federal lawsuit filed by some students and their families, the City of Round Rock is dropping charges against 70 students who participated in last spring's immigration protests.
The city and the Round Rock school district have agreed to pay $91,750 in legal fees and eliminate the incident from students' records. The students must attend a three-hour seminar on civics education.
The conditions of the agreement were reached after mediation among the parties. The Round Rock City Council approved the settlement Thursday.
Police issued 209 citations against the students, accusing them of violating the city's youth curfew or disrupting class. The settlement applies only to the 70 students included in the suit against the city and school district. They had claimed their rights to free speech and to assemble had been violated.
"I think it was a good settlement for all sides," said Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, the organization that found pro bono attorneys to represent the students in their lawsuit.
t's a clean slate for Round Rock students who marched against immigration reform last year.
They say they're happy with the recent settlement with the City of Round Rock.
"I think it was on my mind and so I spoke it," student Kim Arteaga said.
After a year-long battle, Arteaga has a special appreciation for the first amendment.
"I knew that they [immigrants] were afraid to go out there because they thought, 'well, I could get sent back to Mexico' and so I wanted to do it for them," Arteaga said.
So now, they'll have to pay more $50,000 dollars worth of attorneys' fees, and drop any pending violation of curfew and disruption of class charges.
The city of Round Rock will set up a fund to pay $400 for legal fees to students who want their records cleaned, which will be paid by the city's insurance carrier.
Students will have to take a three hour course on civics, but both parties stand by their decisions.