It's an important First Amendment victory.
You will remember this case. We went to federal court on behalf of a student in New York who was indefinitely suspended for wearing a Rosary to school. The school district claimed the wearing of the Rosary was not permitted because it represented a gang-related symbol.
As you know, we filed a federal lawsuit immediately. And, we secured a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from the court to ensure that our client, Raymond Hosier, could return to school and finish out the school year wearing the Rosary.
Now, the Schenectady school district has voted to change this troubling policy. They have amended it and removed the discriminatory language.
This policy change represents a critical victory for religious freedom as well as our client and all students in the school district. It's clear that our lawsuit resulted in an important change of school policy. It's our view that this discriminatory policy violated our client's constitutionally-protected rights of free speech and free exercise of religion.
We filed a federal lawsuit in June on behalf of Raymond and his mother, Chantell. In the complaint, we outlined the fact that Raymond wears the Rosary to express his faith in God and honor the memory of a deceased uncle and a brother who died with that very same Rosary in his hand.
The complaint also asserted that Raymond is not a member of any criminal gang and does not wear his Rosary to promote gang membership or violence. In our filing, we also noted that Raymond has been wearing the Rosary since September 2009 without causing "any disruption to the school environment."
We then filed an amended complaint alleging that the defendants retaliated against Raymond for filing his original lawsuit to secure his constitutional rights. That is posted here.
While this is an important development, and removing the discriminatory policy is a First Amendment victory, this action does not bring an end to our lawsuit.
We stand ready to resolve the remaining issues - liability and damages - either outside or inside the courtroom.
We will now request that the federal district court cancel the preliminary injunction hearing scheduled for September 8th because of the amended policy and the fact that the student, Raymond Hosier, is attending school in a different school district this year.
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