Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Federal judge rules in Hillsborough Easter egg invite case

TAMPA — Polices used by the Hillsborough County School Board to prevent a Lewis Elementary 4th grader from distributing Easter egg hunt invitations can no longer be applied, according to an order from a federal judge this week.

But as a part of a split decision, Judge James D. Whittemore also ruled that the child would not get an injunction against the school board allowing him to distribute invitations immediately.

The federal lawsuit filed in May by the child's mother, Kimberly Gilio, with backing from Christian organizations, claimed the child's First Amendment rights had been violated when he asked a substitute teacher if he could pass out invitations to an Easter Egg hunt and his request was denied by the principal. The invite advertised attendees could "learn the true meaning of Easter."

The principal sent the child's invitations back to him with a note that said, "We are not allowed to pass out fliers related to religious events or activities."

A U.S. Magistrate recommended earlier this month that the child's rights had been violated because his invitations did not cause a classroom disruption — which is a standard for restricting speech in schools —and the rules applied by the School Board unconstitutionally discriminate against the child's view point.

Neither side objected to the magistrate's recommendation. Whittemore explained in the ordered signed on Wednesday, "There is no evidence in this record that distribution of Easter egg hunt invitations during non-instructional time would have caused any interference with schoolwork or discipline at Lewis."

Federal judge rules in Hillsborough Easter egg invite case 10/26/12 [Last modified: Friday, October 26, 2012 10:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. After Hurricane Irma, Tampa Bay officers headed south to help out

    Public Safety

    When Hurricane Irma was forecast to pummel the Tampa Bay region, Tampa police Cpl. Whitney McCormick was ready for the worst — to lose her home and all of her possessions.

    Tampa International Airport Police Department Sgt. Eric Diaz (left) stands next to Tampa Police Department Cpl. Whitney McCormick at the Collier County Command Post in the days after Hurricane Irma. More than 100 local law enforcement officers traveled from Tampa Bay to help out the county. (Courtesy of Whitney McCormick)
  2. Forecast: Sunny skies, mainly dry conditions continue across Tampa Bay


    For Tampa Bay residents, Wednesday is expected to bring lots of sunshine, lower humidity and little to no storm chances.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  3. Florida education news: Irma makeup days, HB 7069, charter schools and more


    MAKEUP DAYS: Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart waives two of the required 180 days of instruction to help districts complete the …

    Education Commissioner Pam Stewart
  4. Rays morning after: At least Archer looked good



  5. Financially strapped Brooksville raises tax rate and fire fees

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — After conducting an intensive examination of the city's financial position over the past couple of months, the Brooksville City Council has settled on its 2017-18 budget and a tax increase and fire fee increase to help pay for it.

    City Council member Joe Bernardini voted against the budget and the tax rate increase, saying it contained no employee raises and almost no capital expenses.