WISCONSIN — Theparent of a Wisconsin middle school student dropped her free speech caseTuesday concerning the school’s ban on “I (Heart) Boobies” breast cancerawareness bracelets.
More than a month after U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb refusedto halt the ban, declaring the bracelets vulgar and offensive, the mother ofKaisey Jenkins decided to drop her lawsuit against the Sauk Prairie SchoolDistrict.
“After looking at our options and looking at what’shappening in other states, districts and in other lawsuits, we wanted to makesure those cases could proceed,” said Tamara Packard, Jenkins’ attorney. “Wethink maybe they would get better results that would assist others in theissue.”
Jenkins will not be allowed to wear the bracelets at themiddle school, and the ban is still in place as a matter of school policy.
Packard said after looking at the case and the circumstances– the judge, the judicial circuit and other facts – her clients decided to dropthe case.
“We decided it was better for the issue as a whole for us tostep back and let other people take the lead,” Packard said.
Jenkins could have appealed Crabb’s preliminary ruling tothe 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals or continued in the district court.
Packard said she hopes other cases under way, particularlyin nearby Indiana, will set a better precedent in the Seventh Circuit.
“We’re hoping these folks will get better decisions and ifthey go up to the Seventh Circuit, they’ll have a good trial court decision andthey’ll then impose good law on the entire Seventh Circuit,” Packard said.“We’re trying to avoid making bad law.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed analmost identical lawsuit in February on behalf of a middle school student inthat state. A pretrial hearing in the Indiana case is scheduled for June 1.
A third lawsuit, concerning a similar bracelet ban for highschool students in a Pennsylvania district, will be argued before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appealson April 10. A lower court judge sided with the students, finding the bracelets were not lewd and did not create a disruption at school.
The Sauk Prairie School District’s attorney, Lori Lubinsky,said the district is pleased the Wisconsin litigation is complete.
“The ban on the bracelets was upheld at the middle schoollevel,” Lubinsky said. “We’re ready to move on.”
Packard said Jenkins will graduate from middle school in acouple of months and will be attending a high school where she can wear an “I(Heart) Boobies” bracelet.
“For this particular student, it’s the end,” Packard said.“If another student faces the ban and wants to proceed against it, that personwould be perfectly able under the same theory.”