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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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