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Judge: Parents not responsive in Anderson school uniform suit

January 1, 2007
The legal challenge to a new school uniform policy in Anderson could be slowly slipping away, as a federal judge in Indianapolis is looking to dismiss the case after the pro se parent plaintiffs "utterly failed" to respond to discovery requests and haven't shown any likelihood of prevailing in court.

U.S. District Judge John D. Tinder on Friday vacated an injunction hearing and trial set for this morning because of the plaintiffs' lack of response. He has issued orders barring testimony and evidence, essentially dismissing the case initiated by parents Laura and Scott Bell.

The two filed suit in Madison Circuit Court on Tuesday against Anderson Community Schools, claiming that a policy set to start on the first day of school Aug. 20 would violate the constitutional right of children to a free education.

This dress code - similar to those implemented in other Hoosier school districts such as the Indianapolis Public Schools that took effect today - limits students to black, navy, or khaki pants or skirts and solid color shirts and sweaters. Students wouldn't be allowed to wear baggy pants or skirts sagging below the midriffs, or shirts with writing on them.

Anderson Community Schools had asked for summary judgment July 30, noting that there is no basis for the federal or state law claims regarding a constitutional right to a "free education" and no violation of "parental rights" under the 9th and 14th amendments.

While the summary judgment motion hadn't been granted by IL deadline this afternoon, Judge Tinder had granted a motion prohibiting testimony on residency and custodial status information on their children, factual testimony about amendment violation claims, and any information on alleged financial hardship resulting from the policy compliance. Today, the Bells submitted an objection to the dismissal along with an amended motion for preliminary injunction.
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