A high school student dismissed from his school broadcast program for signing off with “God bless” is rallying community members to his side.

James Lord, a senior at Dupo High School in Dupo, Ill., was suspended for one month from his daily news broadcast on the school’s closed circuit television after signing off his Dec. 17 broadcast, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.

Lord told his student audience: “Have a safe and happy holiday, and God bless.”

School Principal Jonathan Heerboth has said Lord’s comment was inappropriate for public school, the paper reported.

Lord said he plans to appeal the suspension because he claims it violated his First Amendment rights. Geoffrey Surtees, a lawyer with the Virginia-based American Center for Law and Justice who is advising Lord, said he would wait to see the outcome of the board meeting before making a comment.

Ahead of his address to the school board, Lord distributed more than 400 flyers to encourage local people to attend the meeting. The fliers said the school board was to meet last night, but board members say it is scheduled Jan. 27.

Will Lord say “God bless” again when he returns to the show Feb. 1?

“I can’t guarantee I won’t say it again,” the student said, according to the News-Democrat.

School board member Mike Kloess said he had nothing against Lord’s actions.

“I didn’t have a problem with what he said, but [Superintendent Michael] Koebel knows the rules and knows what people can say and can’t say,” he told the Belleville paper.

Koebel could not be reached for comment.

James’ mother, Beverly Lord, called the school’s decision harsh and a suppression of free speech, the paper said.

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