St. Aug's, student banned from commencement settle lawsuit

From staff reportsDecember 30, 2011 

— A St. Augustine's College graduate has reached an undisclosed settlement in a lawsuit against his alma mater, the former student's attorney said Thursday.

Roman Caple sued St. Aug's in July after he was not allowed to march in the commencement ceremony because of comments he'd made on Facebook.

The suit claimed the college violated his freedom of expression and wrongly denied him the opportunity to participate in graduation after he had fulfilled academic requirements.

Caple's attorney, Brandon S. Atwater of Durham, said Thursday that a voluntary dismissal was filed Wednesday. The settlement terms are confidential, but Atwater said Caple "is very pleased" with the outcome.

The situation arose in the aftermath of tornadoes that struck the campus in April. After the storm, students who lost power for several days complained. The college set up a town hall meeting with representatives from Progress Energy to discuss the recovery on campus. Caple posted to the college's Facebook page urging students to bring documentation and be prepared to challenge St. Aug's officials over the matter. He later received a letter from the St. Aug's administration saying he would not be allowed to participate in commencement because of his "negative social exchange."

St. Aug's officials could not be reached Thursday for comment.

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