Profiles in Stupid School Administrators: Easton School District in Philly Goes to Federal Court to Ban Students from Wearing Breast Cancer Awareness Bracelets
Posted by iusbvision on December 31, 2010
Once again this is a great example why administrators who violate students rights and established case-law should be held personally liable. FIRE has cracked open the door in court to get administrators held personally accountable, but in the mean time these school administrators are wasting the tax payers money to go to court in a lawsuit that they have no chance of winning. A mountain of case-law since Tinker v Des Moines makes it crystal clear that students can wear armbands, bracelets and other messages as a protest, or to make a political or cultural statement.
So this goes to court, if the district court abandons all case-law and rules how it wants and goes against the students the ACLU will still appeal and win. When they do, not only will the school district pay damages to the students, but they will have to pay the ACLU attorney’s huge money for their legal fees. In constitutional civil rights cases if the violator loses the violator pays up. Why should the taxpayer be fleeced because these administrators are so foolish?
Mini Update – now if the school districts lawyers have some ethics they would tell the school district that the odds of winning in the long term are next to nothing, so just apologize and settle. But no, since the taxpayers have deep pockets said attorney’s are more than happy to drag it out and lose because the school district will have to pay them no matter what.
U.S. District Court saw some awkward moments today as a judge heard arguments about whether boobies is a vulgar word and therefore can be banned by school administrators.
The case came to court in Philadelphia after the Easton School District forbade the wearing of the “I (Heart) Boobies” bracelets, and suspended two eighth-grade girls who refused to remove them.
The students said the word wasn’t offensive to anyone and that a ban on the bracelets violated their right to free speech.
The school district said other students might consider the word vulgar. In addition, girls wearing the bracelet might inadvertently encourage bad behavior by their male classmates. Administrators said that since the school code does not allow vulgarities they have the right to ban the wrist bands.
But how to define vulgarity?
Two girls took the witness stand to talk aboutboobies and whether the word might encourage a 13-year-old boy to reflect on something other than cancer awareness.
The bracelets are part of an advertising campaign by the Keep a Breast Foundation, a small, Los Angeles-based nonprofit. The foundation teaches girls how to prevent and detect breast cancer. Sales of the bracelets fund its mission.
Hawk and Martinez said they had permission from their parents to wear the bracelets, even after they learned the school had banned them.
The girls were suspended for a day-and-a-half for “defiance, disruption and disrespect,” after refusing to remove the bracelets and then giving each other a “low five” as they were escorted to the administrator’s office.
Their parents approved the American Civil Liberties Union stepping in to handle the suit.
Actually the courts have handled vulgarity and indecency issues before. The school district have to meet a pretty stringent legal test before the court will allow pre-emptive censorship (prior restraint) and this context of “boobies” doesn’t even come close, as students will hear worse in sex ed class and in the hallways. If a girl says “he touched my boob” is the girl suspended for using a vulgarity? Give me a break.
The school district waisting the citizens money and for what, because a few administrators behaved foolishly and can’t admit that they made an error.