Shawn McBreairty is seen addressing the RSU 22 board of directors during a meeting on Nov. 17, 2021. McBreairty has filed suit against the Hermon School District for alleged 1st Amendment violations. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

A conservative activist who successfully sued Regional School Unit 22  in Hampden after the school board banned him from its meetings has sued the board a second time alleging that his right to free speech again has been limited.

Shawn McBreairty, 52, of Hampden on Friday filed a lawsuit against Heath Miller, the board chair, and members of the RSU 22 school committee, in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

 McBreairty alleged that he was not allowed to speak on Feb. 15 and March 15 during the public comment portion of the school board meeting.

McBreairty claims the rule that forbids negative public comments about district employees is unconstitutional and violates his First Amendment right to free speech. The complaint said that when McBreairty attempted to criticize two teachers by name at the last two meetings, he was shut down.

At the March meeting, Miller had police escort McBreairty out of the meeting and cut the streaming feed, the complaint said.

McBreairty is seeking a preliminary injunction to force the district to change the rule that he claims allows staff to be praised but not criticized publicly.

“We just wish that RSU 22 would just respect the First Amendment so we wouldn’t have to keep suing them,” McBreairty’s attorney Marc Randazza said Friday.

Melissa Hewey, the Portland attorney who represents the school district, said late Friday that the district “values the free flow of ideas and respects the right, protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, for all citizens to speak out on matters of public concern.

“However, RSU 22 also takes very seriously its obligation to protect the dedicated public servants who work for it from being harassed and defamed at public meetings,” she said. “Despite the allegations in the complaint, the district strongly believes that it did not violate [McBreairty’s] rights, but rather did what it is required by law to do in order to protect its employees.”

RSU 22 is made up of schools in Hampden, Winterport, Newburgh and Frankfort.

McBreairty last year settled a similar lawsuit for $40,000 after a federal judge ruled that the RSU 22 board could not ban him from its meetings.

The Hermon School Department last year sued McBreairty seeking compensation for money the district spent to support employees after McBreairty allegedly harassed them. That lawsuit is pending in Penobscot County Superior Court with a video hearing on McBreairty’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit set for April 27.