First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
News Story
 
print this   Print

ACLU asks district to drop suspensions over memorial T-shirts

By The Associated Press
09.02.08

OMAHA, Neb. — The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has called on an Omaha school district to dismiss suspensions against 23 students who wore memorial T-shirts to class.

"Going back to school shouldn't mean sacrificing free speech rights at the schoolhouse door," Amy Miller of ACLU Nebraska said on Aug. 29.

Officials at Millard South High School have said the students violated the district's dress policy by wearing shirts honoring a slain friend. They said the shirts are disruptive.

The T-shirts bear the phrase "R-I-P Julius," honoring former classmate Julius Robinson, an 18-year-old who was shot to death last May. Two other 18-year-olds have been arrested in connection with the slaying, which authorities say was gang-related.

Miller says the district has the leeway to censor messages that are disruptive to learning, but the T-shirts don't fall into that category. Rather, she says, the shirts allow students to express grief.

"Now the school has heightened that loss by silencing any reference to their grief," Miller said.

Counselors are available to help the students deal with the loss of their classmate, an official with Millard Public Schools said.

Angelo Passarelli, the district's director of administrative affairs, said on Aug. 29 that 23 students had been suspended over three days last week.

He referred questions about the ACLU's request to the district's attorney, Duncan Young.

Young said the district wouldn't be able to comment further on the situation because it involved student discipline.

Miller said the ACLU would consider legal action if the district didn't dismiss the suspensions.


Related

Pa. school disciplines student for wearing gun T-shirt

Family files federal free-speech lawsuit after Donald Miller refuses to turn 'Volunteer Homeland Security' shirt inside-out. 03.13.08

Suburban Chicago student can wear anti-gay T-shirt to school

7th Circuit panel orders lower court to tell high school to lift ban on 'Be Happy, Not Gay' while Alexander Nuxoll's free-speech case proceeds. 04.25.08

Fla. teen can wear gay-pride symbols to school
Federal judge rules that Heather Gillman's free-speech rights were violated by high school's ban on rainbows, other expressions of support for homosexuals. 05.15.08

Federal judge: Man's anti-war T-shirts express 'core political speech'
Arizona can't prosecute Dan Frazier under state law that bars sale of products that use military casualties' names without families' permission. 08.21.08

Colo. student suspended for donning anti-Obama shirt
Eleven-year-old and his father say punishment violated First Amendment, but school says he was disciplined because T-shirt was causing disruption, not because of message it bore. 09.24.08

Administrators again dominate list of 'Muzzle' award winners
By David L. Hudson Jr. Democratic, Republican parties also make repeat appearance on Thomas Jefferson Center's list of top censors of the year. 04.07.09

5th Circuit hears Texas student's challenge to dress code
Paul 'Pete' Palmer claims suburban Dallas district censored his protected political speech when it barred him from wearing T-shirt supporting John Edwards for president. 07.10.09

Cartoons, T-shirts and more: why we must protect what offends
By Gene Policinski The same First Amendment protections that shield offensive speech from government censorship also protect those who would speak in opposition. 05.18.08

News summary page
View the latest news stories throughout the First Amendment Center Online.



Last system update: Monday, February 8, 2010 | 05:11:59
 SEARCH  MORE
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
How to contribute
Video/RSS/podcasts
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment
reports

Religious liberty in public schools
First Reports
Supreme Court
Columnists
Experts
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Glossary
Freedom Sings™
Events
First Amendment
Schools

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment
Library

Lesson plans
freedomforum.org
Newseum
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links