search
top

Third Grader Not Allowed To Wear Mask With Message.

Lydia Booth (L.B.) is a nine year old third grade student attending the Simpson Central Elementary School in Pinola, Mississippi.

Before the start of the school year, the school district mandated that students wear masks while at school. This was part of their “restart plan” that had been sent to parents.

Several times before October 13, 2020, L.B. wore a mask that says “Jesus Loves Me,” on it. The mask caused no confusion or disturbance to the educational environment. Furthermore, the mask was inline with other student worn masks that had messages on them including logos of football teams, colleges, and the statement “Black Lives Matter.”

However, on October 13, L.B. was told she could no longer wear the mask as it contained a “religious message.” She was forced to remove the mask during her lunch period.

L.B.’s mother Jennifer Booth contacted the school to find out why her daughter was not allowed to wear the mask. Principal Antoinette Woodall told Booth that the mask violated the school’s dress code which reads:

Clothing advertising alcoholic beverages or drug culture, clothing with obscene language or gestures, or clothing of any suggestive nature shall not be worn.

We are having problems with understanding how “Jesus Loves Me” is obscene.

Booth continued to ask Principal Woodall questions and the answers she got were not very good.

Booth asked if the message would be allowed on a t-shirt as she had seen many kids wearing religious themed tees.

Woodall told Booth that the message would be allowed on a t-shirt but not on a mask because the mask was “right in your face.”

That means that the school allows the message, but the issue was the location of the message (t-shirt vs. a mask) which means that Woodall’s assertion that the message was against the policy of “obscene speech” went out the window. If Woodall wants to assert the message is obscene on the mask, then it has to be obscene on a t-shirt, yet Woodall was saying it wasn’t.

Two days later, Superintendent Greg Paes issued a statement which read, in part:

Masks cannot display political, religious, sexual or any inappropriate symbols, gestures or statements that may be offensive, disruptive or deemed distractive to the school environment. This expectation was outlined in our restart plan and is specific to masks only. (emphasis in original)

Booth did not remember “mask only restrictions” being within the mailed restart plan. Booth went to the archived copy of the restart plan on the school’s website and the passage was not within the plan.

However, she accessed the “restart plan” being shown online now, and the verbage was included.

Puzzled, Booth examined the metadata of the restart plan document and found that it had not been changed since it’s original date of issue until October 14, 2020 when it was changed. October 14 is one day after L.B. was told to change her mask. in other words, the so called “policy” was not in place until after the incident.

The School District and the School Superintendent appears to have lied to the parents within the school district.

The case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District is on point here. In Tinker, the Supreme Court held:

The Supreme Court held that the armbands represented pure speech that is entirely separate from the actions or conduct of those participating in it. The Court also held that the students did not lose their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech when they stepped onto school property. In order to justify the suppression of speech, the school officials must be able to prove that the conduct in question would “materially and substantially interfere” with the operation of the school. In this case, the school district’s actions evidently stemmed from a fear of possible disruption rather than any actual interference.

Later rulings have provided that schools are given wide latitude in allowing or disallowing students to display a message that may be disruptive. While that sounds like a point in favor of the school here, it is not.

L.B. had worn the mask several times before without any disruption in the educational environment of the school. On October 13th, when she was told to remove the mask, there had been no disruption of the educational environment.

It is one thing for a school to say “you can’t wear that because we think it will be disruptive” the first time they see the message. It is quite another to say the message may be disruptive after the message has been on display multiple times without any disruption.

The other elephant in the room is that the masks with “Black Lives Matter” are still allowed in the school. It cannot be disputed that “Black Lives Matter” is a political statement yet the school allows those masks contrary to the school’s policy which they hastily wrote and sent out on October 14th.

The Alliance Defending Freedom has taken on this case and has filed a lawsuit against the school claiming violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

This is one of those tricky things because any monetary awards may hurt kids in the schools themselves.

However, there is a serious trust issue now with the School District having lied to parents and students. Anyone, and we mean anyone, who was a part of that lie should be relieved of their position and sent packing.

Also, as there are lots of required “diversity” indoctrination training classes, we’d like to see school district employees be required to take a course in what the rights of students are while at school.

Clearly, the Simpson County School District needs to be educated in those rights.



2 Responses to “Third Grader Not Allowed To Wear Mask With Message.”

  1. Luke says:

    Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the school administration just admitted they made a mistake, apologize to the student/parents and drop the whole thing saving everyone involved a lot of money and grief. I know the courts are there to rectify legal disputes but sometimes I wonder if rational adults shouldn’t just try to work these kind of disputes out first, especially as there is already legal precedence indicating the administration was in the wrong.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Luke,

      Thanks for the comment.

      It used to be that adults could admit mistakes, change their thinking and move on with life.

      We don’t see that much anymore.

      The School District doesn’t want to admit they are wrong because that will follow and haunt them on the internet. Parents will scream “you can’t do that! You were wrong in the Boothe case and you are wrong here! You have a history of being wrong!”

      Instead, we get to spend taxpayer money on defending what is clearly a issue that has already been decided by the courts. The principal and the District Superintendent don’t care as it is not their money being spent.

      We are one of those groups that would like to see the end of “qualified immunity” for those in government service. Everyone in the private sector has to deal with repercussions on a personnel level when they screw up. Government employees should have to do the same thing.

      Thanks again for the comment.

      A. Afterwit.

  2. […] other day we posted about a third grader in Pinola, Mississippi whose family is suing the school district over the district saying the child […]

top