On June 23, 2010, the Rutherford Institute filed a complaint in federal court against Morgan Hill Unified School District (Morgan Hill, CA) for sending students home on Cinco de Mayo (May 5, 2010) who wore shirts with american flags on them. That this happened at all in America is disturbing as the administrators did not seem to comprehend even basic freedom of speech and expression rights granted by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Students do not lose the entirety of their First Amendment rights just because they attend school.
According to the Morgan Hills Times (newspaper) the Live Oak High School Vice Principal and Principal involved no longer work in the district, but the case is, thankfully, still moving forward. Just yesterday (February 17, 2011), the students defeated most of the motion to dismiss filed by the school district and are proceeding with the case. The case challenges the fact that students were singled out and made to leave the school for wearing patriotic shirts. The school defended its actions based on alleged disruption to the school environment. However, the only disruption was to the students' rights!
The school's actions were blatantly in violation of the students right to free speech and freedom of expression. Although the District has offered to change its policy, the case will proceed for a court determination.
I have practiced in this field (education law) since 1995 and nothing surprises me anymore. Although the law is written to protect students, it MUST be enforced, lest the law remain merely symbolic and/or something to wrap fish in. A law written but unenforced is worthless. As such, I commend the Rutherford Institute for rallying to this cause. I cannot wait to see how this matter turns out, which I predict, will result in a victory for students.
Education Law Attorney
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814