Sunday, April 24, 2005

Dirty Words

There really ought to be basic constitutional law literacy programs for school district employees, if only for liability reasons. Otherwise you end up with stuff like this:

School Suspends 2 Over 'Vagina' Buttons
Principal Nancy Wondrasch said some in school find the buttons offensive.

"We support free speech," she said. "But when it does infringe on other people's rights and our school policies, then we need to take a look at that."
To my knowledge, the clear constitutional standard articulated in Tinker still reigns.
In order for the State in the person of school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, it must be able to show that its action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint. Certainly where there is no finding and no showing that engaging in the forbidden conduct would 'materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school,' the prohibition cannot be sustained.
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