An important update to this ongoing story. Just hours after filing a federal lawsuit in New York on behalf of our client, 13-year-old Raymond Hosier, who was suspended for wearing a Rosary to school - a federal judge has granted our request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) - clearing the way for Raymond to return to school immediately with the Rosary in place.
As we reported earlier, we filed a federal lawsuit earlier today on behalf of Raymond - we went to federal court in New York to ensure that his constitutional rights are protected.
In addition to our lawsuit, we requested that the court issue a TRO - halting the enforcement of the school district's dress code policy against Raymond and clearing the way for him to return to class.
U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence E. Kahn issued a TRO - just hours after the request was filed - ordering the school district to permit Raymond to return to school tomorrow wearing the Rosary.
We're extremely delighted that Raymond can now return to school with his Rosary in place. This is an important first step in the legal process in what we believe will ultimately result in the federal district court determining that the punishment inflicted by the school district by suspending Raymond for wearing a Rosary not only was wrong, but violated his constitutionally-protected rights of free speech and free exercise of religion.
The TRO issued by the court clears the way for Raymond to return to class tomorrow with his Rosary displayed around his neck and outside his shirt - something he has been doing since September 2009. The court set a hearing date for June 11th. At that time, the court could grant a Preliminary Injunction, permitting Raymond to continue to wear the Rosary in school until a final decision is reached in the case.
The TRO is posted here.
This is a clear case where the school district has not only ignored the constitutional rights afforded to our client, but exhibited hostility toward his First Amendment rights prohibiting him from engaging in free speech and free exercise of religion.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of New York on behalf of Raymond and his mother, Chantell Hosier, against the Schenectady City School District and other school officials - including the principal of Oneida Middle School, where Raymond attends.
The suit requests a jury trial and asserts that the school's actions violated Raymond's constitutional rights of speech and expression, free exercise of religion, and due process under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
In suspending Raymond, school officials contended that wearing a Rosary that included religious beads violated the school district's dress code policy and asserted that the Rosary is considered a gang-related symbol.
In our complaint, we contend 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 asserts that Raymond is not a member of any criminal gang and does not wear his Rosary to promote gang membership or violence. It's important to note that Raymond has been wearing the Rosary since September 2009 without causing any disruption to the school environment whatsoever.
The lawsuit, which requests a trial by jury, urges the court to declare the disciplinary actions taken by school officials against Raymond unconstitutional, to declare the school's dress code policy unconstitutional and to prevent it from being used to punish students like Raymond in the future.
The fact that the federal court has granted a TRO represents an important victory for Raymond. He can now return to class wearing the Rosary that means so much to him.
This is a vitally important constitutional case. We will keep you posted as developments unfold.