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By Jay Sekulow1309027417000

Mid-January, we received a call from Rod and Lori Rieth requesting our assistance after their son, Rex, reported to them that he had to turn his t-shirt inside-out because of its religious message.  Rex is a junior at Harrington School.  A teacher had complained about Rexs t-shirt which displayed a message that stated, JESUS DIED FOR PEDRO and He died for you too, playing off the popular, Vote for Pedro t-shirts worn by many high school students and popularized by the movie, Napoleon Dynamite.  On the back of the t-shirt was a reference to John 5:8.  The teacher complained to the principal that he was offended by Rexs t-shirt, as he felt that the message (by itself) made him feel as though Rex was trying to push Jesus on him.  Subsequently, the principal directed Rex to wear the shirt inside-out so that the print was not visible. 

 

The t-shirt was not in violation of any school dress code, and other students wore t-shirts at Harrington School with various messages in the past.  Rex has worn other t-shirts that borrow a theme from the movie Napoleon Dynamite.  There were never any complaints concerning his other Napoleon Dynamite t-shirts. The sole complaint was based upon the religious viewpoint of the shirt Rex was asked to turn inside-out.

 

Because the principals wrongful conduct violated Rexs constitutional rights, we sent a demand letter to the schools attorney on January 18, 2006.  We received a response by telephone from the attorney on January 30, 2006, apologizing on behalf of the school and stating that he agrees with our position and has educated the principal regarding Rexs constitutional rights in public school.  We are drafting a stipulation agreement, which the School Board must approve, but Rex is free to wear his JESUS DIED FOR PEDRO . . . t-shirt to school!   Our clients our very pleased with the outcome of the case!

 

 

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