Is School Punishment For A Haircut A Personal Injury?

Leopard hairAs students head back to school in droves, some are finding that staying within the boundaries of school rules for appearance is tougher than they thought.  Lauren, a thirteen-year-old girl, was one such student who got a new “do” that was shaved on one side and dyed in a leopard-print pattern.

However, Lauren’s family and friends were soon left distressed when Lauren was sent home from school for violating school rules.  Some are going as far as to say that this incident is a breach of the girl’s human rights.

Lauren’s school, which requires uniforms to be worn by its students, claims that its dress code policy is clear.  In addition to making all of its students aware of each part of the policy, the school also provides copies for students to upload on its website.

In a statement, the school reported, “The policy clearly states that extreme haircuts, including hair color, are not allowed.  A pupil arrived at school with a ‘leopard skin hair color’ style. I took the decision to send the pupil home in order to remedy this breach of the school’s uniform policy.”

The mother of the student claims that she supports school uniforms, but that controlling a students’ hair is going too far.  “I have explained to the school that I can understand its uniform policy and I totally agree with it but you cannot tell anyone how their hair should be styled.  They are discriminating against her because of how she looks.  She has the right to express herself in whatever way she wants as long as she is in school uniform.”

Lauren’s supporters say that their biggest concern is that the education of student’s is being negatively impacted and that suspending the student for her hair is denying her the right to learn.  They further assert that this amounts to an actual injury of the child.

What About A Faux Hawk?

One need only read through recent media reports, to see that this debate is not new. Late last year, a five-year-old named Jalyn went to school with a haircut that was short on the sides and longer on the top.  The cut was characterized as a “Faux Hawk”.  His school claimed that this haircut was a distraction to fellow students and he was sent home.

Jalyn’s family quickly secured representation by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.  Not long after, the civil advocacy group filed a complaint alleging racial discrimination in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act with the U.S. Department of Education.

The language in Jalyn’s school policy is as follows: “All hairstyles must be appropriate for a Catholic grade school: extreme hairstyles, hair dye, highlights or extensions are not allowed (this includes feathers, foils, tinsel, “bling strands”, hi-lites, faux hawks, tails, and spiking … ).”

Jalyn’s mother contends that her black son is being singled out for harsher treatment from the school because of his race.  She pointed out that other students had similar haircuts, but were allowed to keep them without interference from the school.  Further, Jalyn’s claim is that this is just one more incident in a pattern of racially discriminating treatment aimed at the young student.

The lawsuit demands that the school “conduct cultural sensitivity training for the staff and administration, create a stronger anti-discrimination policy, and develop more culturally inclusive school discipline policies”.

The Bottom Line On Civil Rights

Legal experts caution students who would consider this form of expression a constitutional right.  There are limited cases where discrimination may be at play, particularly if there is a pattern of certain races being singled out while others are not.  However, in most instances when a family chooses a private school with strict rules, then they need to work within those boundaries and follow the rules.

According to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefit of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

So what does this mean for students wanting to express themselves?  Unfortunately, the bar is pretty high to prove discrimination in these types of cases.  Typically one case of one student being sent home for a hairstyle will not show a pattern of discrimination.  Additionally, if a school has a pattern of sending all students home for the same infractions, this will typically not rise to the level of discrimination.

How To Make Change The Right Way

Assuming that actual legal discrimination does not come into play, what can your student do?  There is always the immediate temptation to rebel. However, administrators say that disregarding rules because students do not agree with them is not the best way to bring about change.  Instead, students should leverage their frustration to create change.

Yes, hairstyle rules may be ridiculous, but if they are a current school rule, students must respect them.  If students want change, they should try and respectfully change rules by sitting down to conversations with administrators, starting a petition or gathering letters of support from students, parents, and teachers.  This is the only way to help bring about positive and lasting change.

Have These Students Really Beem Injured?

Some parties would argue that both student and any others that are being directed in such a manner with respect to something like their hair or clothes styles have been injured.  Regardless of the potential civil rights actions, both parties claim that their children have been injured because they are unable to take advantage of the education they have a right to  For this reason, both parties are considering lawsuits against the school districts in question in order to make up for the losses and emotional and psychological injuries to their child.

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At the law firm of J. Price McNamara we understand how important good legal representation is for the outcome of your case.  If you have been involved in a lawsuit or have been injured in an accident, you need to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.  The law may limit the time you have to file your lawsuit or respond to pending litigation.  J. Price McNamara is known for his experience and skill in fighting for his Louisiana clients.  Let Attorney McNamara help you help settle your case so you can stop worrying and get on with your life.  Call our Baton Rouge, LA office today for your free case review and find out how we can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Galette Meets With NFL Over Domestic Violence Charges 

Saints ImageLooking at the recent news, football fans can see that there has been a noticeable increase in reported domestic violence incidences lately. New Orleans Saints linebacker Junior Galette is just one in what appears to be a string of football players who are accused of doing physical harm to a family member or acquaintance. Charges were recently filed against Galette after an altercation with a houseguest making him the latest player to hit the spotlight for negative reasons.

In response to the latest allegations, Galette says he is scheduled to meet with NFL officials in New York at the end of this month. At that time, the NFL will determine if punishment is necessary for a January domestic violence arrest. The charges, filed after an altercation with a female houseguest, were later dismissed.

The NFL’s new personal conduct policy says punishments can be given to players even if charges do not result in criminal convictions. The only evidence necessary to hand down punishment is proof that the player engaged in specific conduct. First time offenders are typically suspended for six games. However, Galette says he does not expect any punishment to be handed down.

The underlying incident occurred back in January at Galette’s home. According to police reports, Galette and a friend were accused of injuring a woman when she refused to leave Galette’s home. Galette reportedly said that the woman was a dancer who spent the night. When the woman would not leave, Galette and a friend forcibly removed her. The woman claimed that she had lived with Galette for at least two years prior to the incident.

The case was dismissed after the City Attorney’s Office interviewed four witnesses. A video was also presented that was recorded with Galette’s cellphone. After reviewing the evidence, officials determined the woman did not live at with Galette.

In an interesting development, the same woman also filed a civil suit against Galette claiming that Galette had subjected her to three years of sexual, physical and mental abuse. However, the woman never made a criminal complaint to police regarding any of the alleged charges. It was also reported that witnesses were hard to find, the woman was uncooperative and proved difficult to work with. The civil suit is now in limbo after the woman’s attorney withdrew from the case.

This year has been marked with many challenges for Galette who hit a career low after suffering a pectoral injury. The Saints’ defense has also struggled on the field with the inconsistency and team weaknesses.

Despite the recent turmoil, Galette insists he will bounce back. He believes he needs to concentrate more on the bigger picture and getting back in line with his team. His legal and personal challenges have only served to help him increase his focus and work harder.

On a positive note, Galette recently confirmed that his pectoral injury will not require surgery and he is hoping to be recovered in time for the preseason.

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Robert Durst Case Dismissed In Louisiana

courtThe Robert Durst case has garnered much attention in the news lately due to the bizarre circumstances and his recent arrest. However, the case has gotten more complex as a Louisiana state weapons case was dropped this week. According to local news, officials have recently decided not to prosecute the charges that had been in process for more than a month. After dropping the case, authorities declined to comment, so we can only speculate as to why the charges have been dropped against the man that many are claiming is suffering from severe mental illness.

Under the provisions of the law, the state has reserved the right to reinstitute the case anytime within the six-year statute of limitations on the charges. Durst, an infamous New York real estate heir has long been suspected as the primary suspect in a California murder case from 15 years ago. According to court documents Durst has been jailed in Louisiana since his March 14 after federal agents said they found a loaded gun and marijuana in Durst’s hotel room. These incidents led to indictments in both state and federal court.

Although the state weapons charges have been dropped, the federal case, against Durst for weapons charges remains intact. If found guilty of weapons charges, Durst could face a 10-year sentence in that case, scheduled to go to trial in September. However, given the recent developments in California legal proceedings, the weapons charges may have to wait.

Durst’s has been publicly linked to three unsolved and suspected murders recently in major news coverage in the HBO documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.” Durst has denied responsibility for all three deaths.

In 2003, an attorney helped Durst win acquittal in a charge that he murdered his neighbor in Texas. Durst admitted to shooting his neighbor and dismembering his body. However, despite the body washing up in a nearby bay in pieces, Durst was acquitted after asserting that he shot his neighbor in self-defense.

Durst also has been suspected in the still-unsolved disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen Durst, who vanished in 1982. The murder cases have recently also reached a critical stage of development after Durst reportedly confessed to “murdering them all”, when his microphone was accidentally left on in the bathroom after part of the HBO interview. The trial and its accompanying media frenzy should be interesting indeed.

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If you or a loved one are dealing with legal or personal injury issue, you need an experienced attorney who knows how to deal with your type of case. The law can be complicated and filled with many important rules. For this reason, you need an attorney with knowledge of Louisiana and federal laws to help you get you the outcome you deserve for your case. J. Price McNamara has been practicing law in Louisiana for many years and has handled many cases just like yours. With a wealth of knowledge and respect from both the legal and surrounding community, J. Price McNamara can provide the legal representation that you need. Call us today to schedule your free case review and get an experienced team of legal professionals on your side.