Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough schools' Easter egg hunt flier ban violated student's rights, judge finds

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School Board violated the First Amendment rights of a fourth-grader who wanted to hand out invitations to an Easter egg hunt last spring, a federal magistrate has ruled.

The fourth-grade student at Lewis Elementary School in Temple Terrace asked a substitute teacher for permission to hand out invitations to the egg hunt.

He later got a note from the principal that said, "We are not allowed to pass out fliers related to religious events or activities."

That denial sparked a lawsuit filed by the child's mother, Kimberly Gilio, with backing from several religious organizations that was heard by a magistrate in August.

U.S. Magistrate Elizabeth A. Jenkins ruled Oct. 5 that the School Board used two rules to justify stopping the child, identified only as J.G., from handing out invitations to his classmates that said "learn the true meaning of Easter."

Neither rule meets the standard that allows schools to restrict personal speech, Jenkins found.

But that doesn't mean J.G. can hand out fliers this year. Jenkins said an immediate order allowing the boy to distribute religious invitations was "unnecessary."

"J.G.'s invitations are not entitled to special treatment," Jenkins wrote. "The School Board must be able to perform its responsibility of educating students, as long as it does so consistent with the Constitution."

The School Board argued that the invitations contained a proselytizing message and sought to establish the supremacy of a particular religious denomination, sect or point of view over any other religious denomination, sect or point of view — things that are prohibited on school grounds by board policies.

The School Board should be prohibited from applying its rules to J.G.'s invitations unless it is necessary to prevent interference with schoolwork or discipline, Jenkins ruled.

Gilio and the School Board's attorney could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Both parties can file objections to the recommendation.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

Hillsborough schools' Easter egg hunt flier ban violated student's rights, judge finds 10/09/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 7:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Baker lowers expectations for primary

    Blogs

    Rick Baker officially lowered expectations Tuesday, saying his “battle for the future of the city” against Mayor Rick Kriseman might last until November.

    Rick Baker addresses supporters on Beach Drive Tuesday
  2. Former Sen. Greg Evers, advocate for law enforcement, dead at 62.

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Former State Sen. Greg Evers, the Baker Florida strawberry farmer and veteran politician, was killed in a single car crash hear his home in Okaloosa County. The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the death late Tuesday, but deferred any further information pending an investigation. He was 62.

    Former Florida Senator Greg Evers, R- Milton, was a passionate advocate for law enforcement and corrections officers. He was found dead Tuesday afternoon in a car crash. He was 62. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Polk sheriff: Gibsonton man sent child porn to Bay News 9 anchor

    Crime

    A 20-year-old Gibsonton man was indicted on federal charges after authorities said he repeatedly sent child pornography to a news anchor for Bay News 9.

    Marchaun Browning, 20 of Gibsonton, was indicted on federal charges, accused of sending child pornography to a news anchor for Bay News 9 using Twitter. [Courtesy of Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  4. 5 things to do under $5: Type artists, shuffleboard, toy train show, Wildflower Walk

    Events

    1 Letterheads Typefest: The muralists who run Illsol Space, a gallery in Tampa Heights, said their respect for handmade fonts and sign painting techniques moved them to curate this exhibit featuring type-based muralists, hand-style lettering designers, sign painters, letterpress studios and type designers. …

    Colm O’Connor, a Dublin sign writer, is among the 22 artists featured in the Letterheads Typefest exhibit at the Illsol Space gallery.
  5. Foundation Partners buys Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.

    Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]