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California School Faces Accusations of Violating Student’s First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights

By February 20, 2024News

The issue arose when the student attended a high school football game near San Diego, where he and about one hundred other fans wore Warrior eye black. Eye black, available in grease or pre-made strips, is used by athletes and fans to reduce glare from bright lights and as a form of expressive team support. School officials determined that the student’s face paint was blackface and a hate crime, and they therefore suspended him, leading to the current lawsuit.

The lawsuit contends that the actions of the school officials unconstitutionally violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The parents claimed that the student’s “Ultimate Warrior-style” eye black was expressive activity protected by the First Amendment, and that the Fourteenth Amendment was violated when school officials denied their son basic procedural rights. The case also raises issues of Equal Protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, as the parents claimed their child was unjustly singled out from other attendees who had similar face paint.

This case exemplifies the challenges in balancing student rights against school policies, particularly in interpreting the First and Fourteenth Amendments in educational contexts. It highlights the complexities in distinguishing between personal expression and potentially offensive behavior in schools. The case also underlines the importance of due process and equal protection, considering the significant impact of educational decisions on students’ academic and personal growth.


Source: J.A. v Luna