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Ark. students allowed to resume dress-code protest

By The Associated Press
10.22.06

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A federal judge has issued a temporary injunction that allows students in the Watson Chapel School District to wear black armbands without fear of reprisal in protest of the school’s dress code.

U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes issued the injunction on Oct. 19.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas on behalf of three students, asks that any disciplinary measures against the three be halted.

In his injunction, Holmes said the Watson Chapel case was similar to one the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1969. In that case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the Court ruled that school officials couldn’t bar students from wearing black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War.

On Oct. 6, some students wore small black armbands to school, protesting a new, more restrictive dress code. About 20 students were suspended from school for a day over the protest.

Mike Dennis, an attorney representing the district, said a temporary injunction would allow teens to further violate the uniform policy.

“An injunction would bring substantial harm to Watson Chapel School District as undermining the authority of the board and the district to take disciplinary action for what it considers a serious violation of school policy,” the district’s attorneys wrote in a brief filed before the hearing. “Administrators will be undermined in their ability to enforce school policy.”

The new dress code specifies shirt colors and the numbers of buttons and pockets. Students at the high school must wear khaki pants with belt loops and a white polo-style shirt with two or three buttons. Students also must wear identification badges.


Update
Federal court dismisses part of suit targeting Ark. dress code
Judge rules Watson Chapel officials have immunity from challenge to district's flier policy, but says superintendent, principal can be sued for suspending students for dress-code protest. 08.23.07

Previous
Ark. students suspended for dress-code protest file suit
Represented by ACLU, three teens say punishment violated their free-speech rights, ask that any disciplinary measures against them be halted. 10.11.06

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Lawsuit contends New Jersey school district 'stifled' boys' rights by barring buttons that protest mandatory uniforms. 12.05.06

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By David L. Hudson Jr. Administrators receive 4 out of 14 Muzzle awards as Thomas Jefferson Center announces 16th class of recipients of dubious distinction. 04.10.07

Clothing, dress codes & uniforms

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