After a student was suspended from school for wearing a nose piercing, a federal judge ruled that the North Carolina school must allow the 14 year old to return to school. The nose piercing, the student says, is a part of her religious beliefs.
The federal judge, US District Judge Malcolm Howard stated his decision which allowed the student, Ariana Iacono to return to school. The Johnston County school system dress code states that any facial piercings are not allowed. However, there are exemptions in place for religious beliefs.
The attorney for the school district declined to comment about the federal ruling.
Another hearing is scheduled for November 3rd and the student will be able to continue classes at Clayton High School until at least that time.
The student’s attorney, Jon Sasser and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the school officials stating that the student’s constitutional rights were violated when she was suspended several times since classes started. The student and her mother state that the nose piercing is not a fashion statement but part of the student’s religious beliefs.
The Iaconos are part of a small religious group called the Church of Body Modification, consisting of 3,500 worshippers, a small clergy, a statement of beliefs, and regular religious practices. The group believes that piercings and tattoos are a religious devotion. The religion was first incorporated in July of 2008 in Pennsylvania.
The school’s dress code allows for exemptions based on “sincerely held religious beliefs” and “the principal or the designees should not attempt to determine whether the religious beliefs are valid but if they are central to religious doctrine and sincerely held.”
Since the start of school Ariana Iacono has been suspended four times missing 20 days of class. The student was told that she would have to attend the South Campus Community School, which is a facility designated for those students who have disciplinary or other problems. She would still not be allowed to wear a nose piercing.
The school, the lawsuit states, stepped over the boundaries.