Four years ago, the “Gifties” of Beaubien School lost in the principal’s office. Then, this class of gifted eighth-grade students lost in U.S. district court.
Undeterred, Thursday the group went before one of the highest courts of the land, arguing their principal violated First Amendment free speech rights when he punished them for wearing T-shirts with the word “Gifties” on them.
“There’s a certain point when you have to stick up for your rights,” said Michael Brandt, one of 24 gifted students who sued their principal and the Chicago Board of Education. His mother, Irene Dymkar, is representing the students in the class action lawsuit.
At oral argument, Judge Richard Posner sounded unsympathetic to their cause:
“Why do people bring lawsuits for such trivialities?” Judge Richard Posner, a notoriously tough jurist, asked Dymkar during a three-judge hearing of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit Thursday. “Have they been harmed, these ‘Gifties’?”
“Trivialities”? C’mon, Judge Posner — have a heart! Surely you, a genius among geniuses, should be sensitive to the plight of “gifties.”
Chicago Public Schools lawyers say Kotis was protecting the kids from possible attacks by regular education students. They argue there were tensions between the groups and Kotis had outlawed the word “gifties,” as well as “tards,” used to refer to regular education students….
The gifted students claim there was no safety issue.
We admire the appellants’ chutzpah. It takes guts to label your classmates “tards.”
But we question their assertion that there was no safety issue. They might as well have worn T-shirts reading, “I’m a nerd. Please beat the crap out of me.”
Kids pit principle vs. their principal [Chicago Sun-Times via Overlawyered]
T-shirt battle before Seventh Circuit [Overlawyered]