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District ordered to pay legal fees - Student sued over T-shirt ban [Foxworthy 'redneck' shirt]
Express-Times (Warren County, NJ) ^ | Wednesday, June 21, 2006 | LYNN OLANOFF

Posted on 06/21/2006 10:18:34 AM PDT by shhrubbery!

District ordered to pay legal fees

Student sued over T-shirt ban. Warren Hills district facing payment of nearly $600,000.
Wednesday, June 21, 206
BY LYNN OLANOFF
The Express-Times

WASHINGTON TWP. | Warren Hills Regional School District was ordered to pay nearly $600,000 in legal fees incurred by a former student who sued after school officials banned him from wearing a "redneck" T-shirt.

The plaintiff says the federal magistrate's ruling proves school officials were in the wrong when they suspended him for three days in March 2001 for wearing a Jeff Foxworthy T-shirt.

"I'm glad they had to answer for what they did," Thomas Sypniewski Jr. said Tuesday. The Oxford Township resident is now 24.

School officials said the shirt violated the district dress code, which forbids clothing that portrays "racial, ethnic or religious stereotyping."

Sypniewski, who graduated in 2001, dropped his five-year lawsuit against the district last month, saying he had moved on from the incident and did not want to waste more taxpayers' money.

Gerald Walpin, Sypniewski's attorney, said U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni's ruling shows they were not the victors.

"This opinion makes clear in what I said in my letter to the editor, that clearly the school board was not victorious," Walpin said from his New York office Tuesday. "It makes clear the chutzpah of the school board and the school board attorney."

(Excerpt) Read more at nj.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: New Jersey
KEYWORDS: constitution; dresscode; freespeech; lawsuit; newjersey; politcalcorrectness; publicschools; ruling; schoolboard; sypniewski; tshirt; tshirts; zerotolerance
District officials claimed victory in the long legal battle when the [student's] lawsuit was dropped.

Yes, what chutzpah! The school district LOST, big-time: First, an earlier court decision ordered the district to reverse its politically correct, anti-free-speech, zero-tolerance policy.

And now another court has ordered the district to pay the student's attorney's fees also.

(See letter-to-the-editor correcting the Express-Times for their wildly inaccurate previous article that trumpeted the school district's "victory" : Article about T-shirt lawsuit inaccurate).

These poor excuses for "educators" labeled the t-shirt wearing student, Tom Sypniewski, a "racist" without any factual basis whatsoever.

My only regret is that these liars, the school administrators, are not themselves being sued personally for defamation.

1 posted on 06/21/2006 10:18:39 AM PDT by shhrubbery!
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To: shhrubbery!
These poor excuses for "educators" labeled the t-shirt wearing student, Tom Sypniewski, a "racist" without any factual basis whatsoever.

And I would guess that "Queer and Proud" tee shirts are still perfectly acceptable in that school...

2 posted on 06/21/2006 10:24:32 AM PDT by Publius6961 (Multiculturalism is the white flag of a dying country)
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To: shhrubbery!

Git-R-Done!


3 posted on 06/21/2006 10:41:15 AM PDT by Doomonyou (FR doesn't suffer fools lightly.)
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To: shhrubbery!

Sorry, I don't agree.

While I think the 3 day suspension was too harsh, they have every right to enforce a dress code policy. Whether wearing a Jeff Foxworthy t-shirt is a racist statement or not is open to interpretation. Personally I am not offended by such garb, but then again school is not the place to make such statements.

There is no abridgment of free speech here. I don't see any proof supplied that indicates the district labeled this person a racist.

Any competent judge should have thrown this out of court when presented and tacked a "stupid tax" on the plaintiff.

I guess this magistrate was a Dem...


4 posted on 06/21/2006 10:41:33 AM PDT by Kolb
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To: Kolb
Courts seemed to think differently, for whatever reason.

Clearly, the depositions supported the Sypniewski position because the Court granted all important relief sought by the Sypniewskis: the court required the school to allow the Sypniewskis to wear the Foxworthy T-shirt, which they did without any disturbance; and the school was required to change the harassment and dress codes, which was the bulk of the relief sought by the Sypniewskis.
5 posted on 06/21/2006 10:56:28 AM PDT by stylin19a
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To: shhrubbery!
What I don't understand is why public school students are allowed to wear shirts with words on them, much less T-shirts, at all.

If you let students dress like gangsters, they will act like gangsters.

If you make them dress like civilized human beings, it is much more likely that they will act like civilized human beings.

6 posted on 06/21/2006 10:57:49 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Islam Factoid:After forcing young girls to watch his men execute their fathers, Muhammad raped them.)
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To: Kolb
"You spent more than $1 million in times of financial hardship -- there has to be some accountability," Detrick said.

Board members said they stand behind their decision to aggressively fight Sypniewski's lawsuit.

"We owe it to the kids to stand in their place if they can't defend themselves," board President James Momary said.


Judging from these quotes, I have to infer that the school probably made the situation worse rather than better as they engaged the student and his family....

"We owe it to the kids..."?? What? To pursue more legal action on a dropped case in which they have already lost two rounds? Give me a break!!
7 posted on 06/21/2006 10:58:31 AM PDT by NonLinear (He's dead, Jim)
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To: Kolb
While I think the 3 day suspension was too harsh, they have every right to enforce a dress code policy.

I suspect "equal" enforcement was the issue here.

8 posted on 06/21/2006 11:00:58 AM PDT by Niteranger68 (Ninguna tarjeta verde. Ningún Inglés. Ningún servicio.)
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To: Kolb
I guess this magistrate was a Dem...

Not likely. The judge who wrote the opinion for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Anthony J. Scirica, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

they have every right to enforce a dress code policy

No one disputes that a school has a right to enforce a dress code policy.

What was in dispute was the standards, or lack of such, undergirding that policy.

Whether wearing a Jeff Foxworthy t-shirt is a racist statement or not is open to interpretation.

And that was indeed an issue that was "interpreted" by the court.

You can read the filings in this case at the website of Center for Individual Rights

9 posted on 06/21/2006 11:13:06 AM PDT by shhrubbery! (Max Boot: Joe Wilson has sold more whoppers than Burger King)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
What I don't understand is why public school students are allowed to wear shirts with words on them, much less T-shirts, at all.

I almost agree with you there; but there was a Supreme Court decision, Tinker, back in the 1960s that declared that while schools do have the right to dress and speech codes, that students do not "check all their constitutional rights at the school house door."

(So Tinker, as I understand it, limited school speech and dress codes to forbidding only such speech or dress as would cause "a significant and specific fear of disruption, not just remote apprehension of disturbance.")

If there were not such a limitation on public school administrators, they could ban just about anything they didn't like. (As we have just seen them try to do in the case of the valedictorian whose mike was shut off lest she utter the word, "Jesus.")

10 posted on 06/21/2006 11:25:23 AM PDT by shhrubbery! (Max Boot: Joe Wilson has sold more whoppers than Burger King)
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To: shhrubbery!
If there were not such a limitation on public school administrators, they could ban just about anything they didn't like.

We are talking about clothing, not speech.

If a simple code like dress pants and shirt is somehow proscripted by the courts, then a Dickies uniform will do.

11 posted on 06/21/2006 11:28:33 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Islam Factoid:After forcing young girls to watch his men execute their fathers, Muhammad raped them.)
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To: Kolb
Whether wearing a Jeff Foxworthy t-shirt is a racist statement or not is open to interpretation.

The district's dress code barred clothing that resulted in "racial, ethnic or religious stereotyping." I've never regarded "red necks" as a race, an ethnicity, or a religion. One has to be a bit warped, obsessed, and out of touch with reality to even think so.

12 posted on 06/21/2006 11:39:40 AM PDT by PeoplesRepublicOfWashington (No More White House Dynasties! Two Adamses and two Bushes are enough. No more Clintons or Bushes!)
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To: shhrubbery!
School officials said the shirt violated the district dress code, which forbids clothing that portrays "racial, ethnic or religious stereotyping."

When did "redneck" become a race, an ethnicity, or a religion? 'Cause if it's none of those things, it doesn't meet the district's definition.
13 posted on 06/21/2006 11:40:43 AM PDT by Xenalyte (The wages of sin are death, but after taxes are taken out it's just sort of a tired feeling.)
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To: Xenalyte

I b a rednek an i b prowed ov at, n ain't no sumbich is sayin whut i b 2 war n' whut b 2 b on my shurt oar my britches nether! N at's the trueth 2 ! Them thar edumacaters up thar n neujoise what shud est shut ther mouves n kep kwite 'bout at.
ur fren,
bubba


14 posted on 06/21/2006 12:13:01 PM PDT by geezerwheezer (get up boys, we're burnin' daylight!!!)
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To: shhrubbery!

$600,000 to prove stupid is stupid; now, that's stupid.


15 posted on 06/21/2006 12:22:48 PM PDT by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
We are talking about clothing, not speech.

No. This case is about speech...on clothing.

16 posted on 06/21/2006 1:35:07 PM PDT by shhrubbery! (Max Boot: Joe Wilson has sold more whoppers than Burger King)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum; Kolb
We are talking about clothing, not speech.

We are talking about speech, and as proof, here is the actual text of the "redneck" T-shirt...

Top 10 Reasons you might be a Redneck Sports Fan if . . .

 

10. You’ve ever been shirtless at a freezing football game.

 

9. Your carpet used to be part of a football field.

 

8. Your basketball hoop used to be a fishing net.

 

7. There’s a roll of duct tape in your golf bag.

 

6. You know the Hooter’s menu by heart.

 

5. Your mama is banned from the front row at wrestling matches.

 

4. Your bowling team has it’s own fight song.

 

3. You think the “Bud Bowl” is real.

 

2. You wear a baseball cap to bed.

 

1. You’ve ever told your bookie “I was just kidding”.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals studied this text (seriously). Their conclusion? The t-shirt was not "racist."

17 posted on 06/21/2006 1:43:50 PM PDT by shhrubbery! (Max Boot: Joe Wilson has sold more whoppers than Burger King)
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To: shhrubbery!
Clothing would not be speech if STUDENTS were required to dress like STUDENTS, not gang-bangers.

My point, since you are obviously a DU-escapee, was that there is no constitutional requirement that STUDENTS be permitted to be walking billboards WHILE AT SCHOOL.

18 posted on 06/21/2006 1:48:18 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Islam Factoid:After forcing young girls to watch his men execute their fathers, Muhammad raped them.)
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To: Kolb
You may want to re-consider.

On due process issues alone, this suit was a slam-dunk for Sypniewski.

Read the district court's decision.

19 posted on 06/21/2006 2:59:13 PM PDT by Bonaparte
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To: Kolb

Sorry, I posted the defense memorandum rather than the court's decision. But it still gets the facts across. The school's "dress code" policy was overbroad, discriminatory in its application and an infringment on 1st Amendment rights.


20 posted on 06/21/2006 3:10:22 PM PDT by Bonaparte
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To: Kolb
The district court and 3rd circuit agreed, and the USSC let that ruling stand. The school was out of line and even the wearing of the confederate flag, according to these 3 courts, is protected speech.

Still think the magistrate was a dem?

21 posted on 06/21/2006 3:35:30 PM PDT by Bonaparte
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To: Kolb
Here's the link in support of my last post...

High Court Refuses To Hear T-shirt Case -- IOW, the supremes batted down the school board's final appeal.

22 posted on 06/21/2006 3:37:36 PM PDT by Bonaparte
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To: shhrubbery!
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY THOMAS SYPNIEWSKI,
23 posted on 09/25/2006 7:29:39 PM PDT by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, geese, algae)
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