Skip to comments.District ordered to pay legal fees - Student sued over T-shirt ban [Foxworthy 'redneck' shirt]
Posted on 06/21/2006 10:18:34 AM PDT by shhrubbery!
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 ...
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.
And I would guess that "Queer and Proud" tee shirts are still perfectly acceptable in that school...
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...
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.
I suspect "equal" enforcement was the issue here.
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
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.")
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.
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.
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.
$600,000 to prove stupid is stupid; now, that's stupid.
No. This case is about speech...on clothing.
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. Youve 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. Theres a roll of duct tape in your golf bag.
6. You know the Hooters menu by heart.
5. Your mama is banned from the front row at wrestling matches.
4. Your bowling team has its own fight song.
3. You think the Bud Bowl is real.
2. You wear a baseball cap to bed.
1. Youve 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."
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.
On due process issues alone, this suit was a slam-dunk for Sypniewski.
Read the district court's decision.
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.
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