Parties reject long-awaited arbitration decision

ILLINOIS — For a few days at least, Cynthia Hanifin seemed to have finally won the long-standing battle with her former high school principal.In May, a Cook County arbitration panel ruled that Charles Vietzen, principal of Chicago’s Hubbard High School, was liable for violating Hanifin’s constitutional rights when she was a high school senior in 1993.Vietzen had suspended Hanifin for writing an editorial in the school newspaper criticizing the school’s prohibition on wearing shorts.The arbitration panel awarded Hanifin $1,000 in damages, but Hanifin’s attorney, Timothy J. Touhy, said neither side has accepted the decision issued by the hearing and the case will still go to court.”The case can be resolved, but we need an apology,” said Touhy. “[Cynthia] is going to ask for restoration of her reputation in trial.”In a press release issued by her attorney, Hanifin said the case was not about money.”This was always about me taking a stand for what I believe in and fighting for my First Amendment rights,” Hanifin said.Back in 1993, Vietzen also had Hanifin arrested for trespassing when she tried to attend an awards ceremony during her suspension.”I am gratified that the arbitration panel has ruled that Vietzen violated my rights, but Vietzen has not yet admitted his wrongdoing in this matter,” Hanifin said in the press release. “Vietzen robbed me of the honors I had earned in high school and, even worse, he has damaged my credibility as a journalist.”Hanifin said that any money she does receive from the lawsuit will go toward creating a scholarship for high school students interested in pursuing journalism in college.