The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case, Barr V. LaFon, without comment. The lawsuit was brought on by a group of high school students in Tennessee who lost a battle with their school administrators who would not allow them to wear t-shirts to school that displayed the Confederate flag. The students’ attorney tried to push the case further, though the Supreme Court declined the case.
In 2005, the school put in place a policy that banned images of the Confederate Flag at the school, William Blount High School, located in Maryville. The ban was put in place after heightened racial tension occurred at the school, after an altercation between an African American and a white student occurred. The school had racist graffiti appearing on walls and even one incident in which a noose was drawn next to the Confederate flag.
From August 2005 through March of 2006, the school had 23 incidents of dress code violation in which the Confederate flag was displayed. The students claim that the policy infringes on their rights to express their Southern heritage. The students who filed the lawsuit are Derek Barr, Chris White and Roger Craig White.
The federal judge who first heard the case agreed with the school administration. The administration claims they were simply trying to prevent disruption to the educational process by issuing the policy, especially in light of the racial tension within the school. Alvin Hord, the Director of Blount County Schools, states he did not ban the flag as a racist symbol.
With the U.S. Supreme Court declining to hear the case, this leaves in place the lower court’s August 2008 ruling that upholds the school’s policy. The appeals court states that the school officials could reasonably forecast that the image of the flag could “substantially and materially disrupt the school environment.”
If you are a school administrator with a question about student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, feel free to call Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district issue.