FALLBROOK, Calif. (AP) _ A local school board has rejected a $9.6 million civil rights claim by a student suspended for publishing an underground newspaper, and his attorney says that may pave the way for a lawsuit.

The attorney, Robert DeKoven, called the case ''one of the worst cases of violation of a student's civil rights and press freedom I've ever seen.''

He said he hopes the American Civil Liberties Union finds the case of Daniel Gluesenkamp, 16, worthwhile enough to sponsor a lawsuit.

An honors student at Fallbrook High School in northern San Diego County, Gluesenkamp was suspended for five days shortly after the 20-page tabloid, the Hatchet Job, appeared on campus Sept. 24.

School board president Wayne Miller said the publication was ''absolute rotten filth,'' noting it contained words described by school officials as obscenities.

The boy's claim for $9.6 million damages was rejected by Fallbrook Union High School District's board Monday night. The board sent a note of its action to its insurance carrier for possible negotiations.

Miller said Gluesenkamp and his mother, Kathy, will be sent a standard notice telling them they have 60 days to file an appeal.

DeKoven claims the school's principal, Henry Woessner, violated Gluesenkamp's civil rights when he suspended him and told him to return advertising revenues collected by the paper.

The attorney says nothing in the Education Code authorizes school officials to take disciplinary action against students involved in the publication of an underground newspaper. He said the administrators' authority is limited to official student publications.