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Advocate for City Exchange Students Says Order Defies Free Speech
By Randy Ellis
Staff Writer
Director Danielle Grijalva of Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students

The director of a nonprofit group formed to promote the safety of foreign exchange students vowed Wednesday to defy a North Carolina district court order to remove news articles about the mistreatment of foreign exchange students from the group's Web site.

"Am I defying the court order or am I standing behind my First Amendment right?" asked Danielle Grijalva, director of the California-based Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students.

Among articles the judge wants removed is an article published last year in The Oklahoman that detailed how several foreign exchange students were placed in two Oklahoma City homes headed by convicted felons, including one that was infested with cockroaches, she said.

"The public has a right to read that," Grijalva said.

Grijalva said several child and victims' advocacy groups have rallied to her cause and asked to intervene in the case to help protect the safety of children.

Three foreign exchange groups, Programmes Internationaux d-Echanges, ASSE International Inc., and World Heritage Inc. filed a North Carolina district court lawsuit against Grijalva last year, accusing her of unreasonably interfering with contractual relationships with current and potential foreign exchange students.

Grijalva was accused of contacting foreign exchange students, their natural families, their host families and school personnel and conveying false information about the foreign exchange organizations and the jeopardy to which students were being exposed.

Grijalva said she e-mailed the father of a French foreign exchange student at the student's request but said she has not engaged in any mass effort to contact students, parents and host families.

Judge William B. Reingold issued a preliminary injunction May 30 ordering Grijalva to:

— Not contact any ASSE or World Heritage students, their natural or host families, or school officials.

— Not disseminate any false or misleading information about ASSE or World Heritage.

— Not publish information about ASSE or World Heritage-sponsored foreign exchange students on her Web site,

Grijalva said more than 1,000 individuals have stepped forward to report abuse of foreign exchange students since 2004, and that doesn't count numerous reports of abuse that have appeared in newspapers.

For the protection of foreign exchange students, Grijalva said her organization thinks full fingerprint criminal background checks should be required of all host parents, students should not be placed in homes of convicted felons and students should not be allowed to come to the United States until fully screened host families have been located for them.






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