FORT WORTH, TX – Attorneys for the Southern Legal Resource Center are suing Burleson, TX, school officials over a ban on Confederate symbols that resulted in two students being punished for displaying them.
The suit will be filed Friday in the U.S. District Court in Fort Worth. A media conference will be held at the courthouse at 1 p.m. following the filing. SLRC Chief Trial Counsel Kirk D. Lyons, a member of the Texas State Bar, is representing the students and their families.
The plaintiffs, two female students at Burleson High School, received purses bearing Confederate flag images as Christmas presents and brought them to school in January, 2006. The suit alleges that school officials attempted to confiscate the purses and sent the girls home when they declined to hand the purses over. Both girls had previously worn Confederate-themed items to school without incident.
The girls’ parents went through a lengthy appeals process, attempting to have the school board lift the ban and remove the disciplinary action from the girls’ records. The school board rejected all appeals on grounds that the Confederate symbol was "racist" and "disruptive" and therefore in violation of the school district’s student dress code.
The suit alleges that the school board is selective in its application of the dress code, singling out the Confederate flag for exclusion while permitting students to wear other controversial symbols including the swastika. The complaint, which asks for a jury trial, claims violation of the students’ rights to free speech, due process of law and equal protection under law.
The SLRC is a nonprofit organization that coordinates legal assistance in civil rights cases involving Southern heritage and culture. In 2006 the SLRC settled a case out of court on behalf of its client Jacqueline Duty, a Kentucky student who was barred from her senior prom for wearing a, evening dress patterned after the Confederate flag. That case in turn was based on a 2004 SLRC victory, Castorina v. Madison County Schools, in which an appellate court struck down a school board’s ban on Confederate symbols.
The Southern Legal Resource Center