According to documents filed Oct. 4, a Smyrna High School parent filed suit against a Rutherford County Schools employee for violating her daughter’s constitutional rights.
Norma Super filed a complaint on behalf of her daughter Danielle, claiming Smyrna High School Assistant Principal Jolene Watson violated Danielle’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by refusing to allow her to wear a T-shirt declaring, “Free the Jena Six.”
"We believe the school acted properly and that will be proven in the end," said James Evans, Rutherford County Schools spokesman. "The issue was about safety not free speech."
According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred Sept. 20 when Danielle arrived at school after a Nashville march in support of six black Louisiana students, whose arrests for allegedly beating a white classmate have sparked a civil rights debate.
Danielle arrived at school and was asked to change her shirt before going to class. Watson allegedly told the student the shirt “could cause a problem.” At which point, Danielle changed shirts and entered the school.
Watson’s actions, the lawsuit contends, violated Danielle’s constitutional rights.
The lawsuit asks for compensatory damages, an injunction to allow students to wear shirts supporting the Jena 6 and lawyer’s fees and costs related to the legal action.
Michelle Willard can be contacted at 869-0816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.