Judge dismisses suit over Confederate flag at Burleson High School

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News

A federal judge has dismissed a case by current and former Burleson High School students who were forbidden from carrying purses bearing the Confederate battle flag on campus.

The ruling released Tuesday by Judge David C. Godbey ends the more than year-long lawsuit about the place of Confederate symbols in public life. School district officials said the symbols could be disruptive because of the racial overtones. The defendants and the Southern Legal Resource Center, which represented them, said the school’s decision violated their rights of free express, due process, equal protection and right to express their heritage.

Ashley Thomas and Aubrie McAllum, both juniors at the time, were told by the Burleson High principal in January 2006 that they couldn’t bring the Confederate purses to school. In February 2007, the Southern Legal Resource Center, which has fought similar bans throughout the country, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the girls. Ms. Thomas’ younger sister, then a sophomore at Burleson High, was later added to the lawsuit.

The school district noted in court filings that soon after the publicized dispute in 2006, profane and racist graffiti – featuring the “N” word and a swastika – was scrawled on the wall of a Burleson High restroom, and someone raised a homemade Confederate battle flag at the school flagpole.

Apparent supporters of Ms. Thomas and Ms. McAllum distributed a pro-Confederate flag flier at school saying: “Your ignorance isn’t a reason for our heritage to be hidden.” The flier also said that the “Civil War” wasn’t fought over slavery, the flag represents a pro-American and pro-Constitution position, and that slavery was legal under the U.S. flag.

© 2008, The Dallas Morning News, Inc.


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