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IN BRIEF

School Suspension Over Religious Slogans Voided

March 22, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A high school cannot suspend students for handing out candy canes with religious messages, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Frank Freedman said this week that a policy at Westfield High School prohibiting the distribution of printed material on school grounds without permission violated students' 1st Amendment rights. Members of the school's Bible club had asked the principal just before Christmas if they could hand out candy with religious messages. The principal said no, but they handed them out anyway.

Six of the seven students received one-day in-school suspensions and filed suit.

Claire Thompson, a lawyer for the school, argued that the principal had the right to review the messages because the club was a school-sponsored activity.

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