Former porn actor-turned-tutor loses free speech battle with Palm Beach County school board

Federal appeals court rules against David Mech

David Mech is running for school board in Palm Beach County.

BOCA RATON, Fla. - A federal appeals court has ruled against a former porn star turned math tutor, saying he doesn't have a free speech right to hang a sign advertising his tutoring business at three Boca Raton schools.

Boca Raton resident David Mech paid $1,750 to advertise his "Happy/Fun Math Tutor" business in 2010, but the School District of Palm Beach County removed the signs in 2013 after learning that Mech was a porn star who acted under the name Dave Pounder.

The signs were hung at Omni Middle School, Spanish River Community High School and Boca Raton Community Middle School.

A decision Monday by the 11th U.S. District Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision that the signs are not considered free speech, but "government speech."

"If the banners are government speech, Mech loses," the court said in its decision, noting that that the free speech clause of the First Amendment "restricts government regulation of private speech; it does not regulate government speech."

Since the banners were hung on school fences, the court opined that government property is "often closely identified in the public mind with the government unit that owns the land."

Mech, who also operates Dave Pounder Productions at the same mailing address as his tutoring business, sought a school board seat last year but was defeated by incumbent Karen Brill.

In an August 2014 interview with Local 10 News, Mech said he sought a seat on the school board because of its lack of equality.

"If we were following peer-reviewed public health data and putting condoms in the schools, where they should be, and not trying to deny the science, you know, and all these things were happening, then I wouldn't need to run," Mech said.

Follow Local 10 News on Twitter @WPLGLocal10

Copyright 2015 by Local10.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.