May 4, 2006
By TIM MILLER
6 News Anchor/Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) — In federal court in Knoxville Thursday, a lawyer representing three William Blount High students asked a judge to throw out the Blount County School Board’s dress code banning the representation of the Confederate flag on clothes.
William Blount High has been dealing with racially charged incidents, culminating in the lockdown of the school at the end of last school year.
The students’ attorney, Van Irion, said the students’ rights of expressing themselves are taken away by the ban.
Irion told 6 News, "The school has to show there’s a reason for that and we are alleging they have no grounds that would justify such a ban."
Irion was then asked if he felt the school district was targeting the Confederate flag and Southern pride. He replied, "That’s correct, that’s exactly correct."
The attorney is asking for a temporary injunction to discontinue the ban, while the litigation proceeds. But he said a permanent ban would be one goal of a possible trial.
Lawyers for the Blount County School Board did not comment after the hearing due to the pending litigation.
But they argued in court that the dress code is in place because of the racial incidents and has prevented further violence.
Federal Judge Thomas Varlan said he will consider both sides and render a decision in "due time."
In a second case related to this one, Irion is suing the Blount County School District for $10 million, on behalf of a former student.
Shana Miller claims her principal at William Blount High, Steve Lafon, harassed her in March, instead of punishing her for violating the dress code.
Miller told 6 News the principal took inappropriate pictures of her thighs, because she violated the dress code by wearing ripped jeans. Miller has since transferred to Heritage High School and will graduate this month.
There’s no word on when that case will be back in federal court.
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