ILNews

School, student settle pledge suit

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Within a week of filing a federal lawsuit, a settlement has been reached on a case involving a high school student who was punished for not standing during the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Franklin Community School Corp. superintendent said the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has agreed to drop the lawsuit. The school district will pay the student's $1,000 in attorney fees, clear his school record, and not require participation by standing or any other way during the Pledge of Allegiance and a brief moment of silence.

A 17-year-old student identified only as J.L. filed a five-page suit Feb. 22 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana against the school corporation.

According to the suit, J.L. decided not to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence Feb. 15. A science teacher warned J.L. that he'd be punished for not standing in the future, and when the student later asked what legal authority allowed the school to punish him for not participating, the educator responded "because his teacher 'said so,' not because the law required it," the suit said.

On Feb. 19, J.L. again sat silently and didn't participate in the pledge or moment of silence and was sent to the assistant principal's office. He received detention, but then school officials realized they'd misinterpreted the law, according to Franklin Community School Corp. Superintendent William Patterson.

Indiana law requires that there be a moment of silence and recitation of the pledge every day during school, but it does not force a student to say the pledge or participate. State law says that teachers are responsible for making sure students remain seated or standing during the moment of silence, and that they maintain silence and do not distract other students.

Patterson said administrators thought the law allowed schools to require all students to stand or sit, but not pick one over the other.

ACLU of Indiana attorney Jacquelyn Bowie Suess could not be reached by Indiana Lawyer Feb. 27.
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  1. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

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  3. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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