Sunday, April 8, 2007

U.S. Government: "Packers suck"

From Sonkowsky v. Board of Educ., 2002 WL 535078:

Rocky was a nine year old fourth grade student at New Prague Intermediate School in New Prague, MN, Independent School District No. 721, during the 1999- 2000 school year. Rocky is originally from Wisconsin, and is an avid Green Bay Packer fan.

During the 1999-2000 school year, Rocky's fourth grade class participated in the GridIron Geography curriculum. Students were assigned various cities in which NFL football teams were located.… For one assignment, the students were directed to color a picture of a football player in the purple and gold team colors of the Minnesota Vikings. Rocky alleges that when he turned in his picture colored in the green and yellow team colors of the Green Bay Packers, he was told by Wilson he had not followed directions, and was to make another picture in purple and gold. Rocky again turned in a green and yellow picture, and Wilson again did not accept it. Rocky alleges that all the other students' purple and gold pictures were displayed on the classroom bulletin board, but his green and yellow version was not.

…[A] photograph was taken of Rocky's class in front of their "GridIron Geography" bulletin board to send to the Minnesota Vikings, and a second photograph was taken of the class after notification that they had won the contest. Because the teachers felt it would be disrespectful for the students to wear jerseys of other football teams in the contest photo, they instructed the students to wear Vikings jerseys or colors for the photo. On the day one of the photos was taken, Rocky was wearing a Brett Favre Packers jersey with a large number four printed on the front.… Rocky alleges he was instructed to be in the photo, and that he must cover the Packers jersey. Defendants admit that Rocky was instructed to cover the jersey if he chose to appear in the photo.… Rocky covered the jersey with a sweatshirt, and appeared in the photo holding a folder bearing a Packers' logo. In the other photograph of the class, Rocky is shown holding up his Packers jersey.

To celebrate winning the contest, Wilson and Madigan's classes participated in the New Prague Holiday Lights Parade. Participation was optional for the students, and the students were told to dress for the December weather and wear Vikings clothing if possible. Rocky alleges that Wilson told him that if he showed up wearing a Packers jersey or jacket, he would not be allowed to participate in the parade.…

Rocky did not attend the December 14, 1999, field trip to Winter Park. Defendants assert Rocky was held back as a sanction for his behavior during the school year… On December 13, 1999, Rocky allegedly told Wilson and Madigan that he was going to say "Vikings Suck, Brett Favre Rules" to Cris Carter at Winter Park. Anderson avers that the Rocky's proposed comment that the Vikings "sucked" would be a violation of the School District's Student Code of Conduct (providing that disrespectful student language is unacceptable) subject to disciplinary action under the School District Discipline Policy. Subsequently, Anderson and Wilson decided that Rocky would not be permitted to attend the field trip to Winter Park.

Sonkowsky alleges that Rocky's rights were deprived (1) when his homework assignment was not displayed by his teacher, (2) when he was told to cover his Packers jersey for the class photo, (3) when he was told he could not participate in the parade, and (4) when he was not allowed to attend the class field trip.


The school district won a summary judgment. As the judge noted,

There is no constitutional right for a nine year old to wear a Green Bay Packers jersey to elementary school.

But didn't they know that this case would be a loser in Minnesota? They shoulda moved for a change of venue to the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

1 comment:

Your RHS said...

I am not afraid to say that this is one of the most important cases heard in an American courtroom in the last 100 years.

Skol Vikings.