Senior barred from attending graduation receives $150,000 in lawsuit settlement

District offers to pay student disciplined for spreading rumors

TEXAS -- A high school senior barred from attending his own graduation agreed to a $150,000 settlement with his school district in May.

Former Midland High School student Casey Riggan was not allowed to go to his graduation after he refused to turn over a photograph taken of his principal's car outside a female teacher's house over a year ago. School administrators accused Riggan of being disrespectful and fostering rumors and ordered him to apologize.

Riggan refused to apologize and instead filed a lawsuit against the Midland Independent School District. Midland principal Neil Richmond responded by placing Riggan in an alternative school for students with behavior problems. Riggan finished the school year there, but wanted to participate in Midland's graduation ceremony with the rest of his friends and classmates. Riggan's mother, Gail Riggan, told the Associated Press that her son was the first family member in six generations to graduate from high school.

The school district's $150,000 settlement offer came after a federal judge denied the district's motion for summary judgment in January, according to Riggan's attorney, Brian Carney.

Carney said the settlement "adequately represented the damage that [the school district] had caused."

"It was good for Casey to be able to get this thing behind him and go on to college," Carney said. "[The settlement] not only compensated Casey and allowed him to go on with his life it emphasized the severity of what they did and how bad it was."

Carney said the money Riggan received in the settlement will help him pay for his college education. Riggan currently attends Midland Junior College.

Fall 2000, reports