West v. Derby Unified School District No. 260, 206 F.3d 1358 (10th Cir. 2000)
A middle school student drew a picture of the Confederate flag in his math class. School officials learned of the drawing and suspended the student for violating its racial harassment and intimidation policy. That policy provided that "students shall not at school, on school property or at school activities wear or have in their possession any written material . . . that is racially divisive or creates ill-will or hatred." The student sued, claiming that the school officials violated his First Amendment rights.
Whether school officials violated the student's First Amendment rights when they suspended him for violating a racial harassment policy for drawing a picture of the Confederate flag.
In a 3-0 decision, a Tenth Circuit panel held that school officials had reason to believe a student’s display of the Confederate flag would cause a substantial disruption or collide with the rights of others.
The school district, based upon past incidents of racial tension and violence, had good reason to adopt a racial harassment and intimidation policy. School officials could reasonably believe that a student’s display of the Confederate flag would cause substantial disruption of school activities or invade the rights of others. "The policy expressly prohibits any student from possessing in his own handwriting a depiction of the Confederate flag."
"To be sure, [the child's] display of the Confederate flag could well be considered a form of political speech to be afforded First Amendment protection outside the educational setting." (Judge Bobby Ray Baldock)
Thursday, May 23, 2013 | 09:54:56