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D.B. v. Lafon

July 28, 2006

D.B., A MINOR, BY AND THROUGH HIS PARENT AND GUARDIAN, SHARON BROGDON, AND SHANA MILLER, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
STEVE LAFON, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; MARK WILLIAMSON, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, AND BLOUNT COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas A. Varlan United States District Judge

(VARLAN/SHIRLEY)

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiffs, two students at William Blount High School in Blount County, Tennessee, allege defendants, Blount County school officials, harassed them in retaliation for D.B.'s initiation of a federal civil action against defendants Lafon and Blount County School Board.

This civil action is now before the Court for consideration of plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order [Doc. 2]. Plaintiffs seek an order requiring that:

Shana Miller be transferred out of defendant Williamson's class, that defendants Williamson and Lafon stay at least fifty feet away from Ms. Miller and DB, that defendants Williamson and Lafon make no attempt to communicate directly or indirectly with Ms. Miller or DB, and that any administrative or disciplinary matters involving Shana or DB be handled by school officials other than defendants Williamson or Lafon.

Doc. 2 at 1-2. Plaintiffs argue that a preliminary injunction is appropriate because Ms. Miller will suffer irreparable harm without it, a preliminary injunction would have a minimal effect on defendants, plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims, and imposition of a preliminary injunction is not adverse to the public interest. See id. at 4-7. Defendants respond in opposition to the motion, generally rebutting each of plaintiffs' arguments. See Doc. 7 at 3-9.

The issues have been briefed, the Court has reviewed the record and legal authorities, and the motion is now ripe for disposition. For the reasons discussed herein, the Court will deny plaintiffs' motion.

I. Relevant Facts

The Blount County Board of Education has adopted a dress code that applies to all high school students. See Doc. 7-4 at 5. That dress code prohibits students from wearing certain items, including the following:

b. torn, cut-off, or damaged clothing. . . . .

f. clothing which exhibits written, pictorial, or implied references to illegal substances, drugs or alcohol, negative slogans, vulgarities, or causes disruption to the educational process; wearing apparel that is sexually suggestive or that features crude or vulgar commercial lettering or printing and/or pictures that depict drugs, tobacco, alcohol beverages, racial/ethnic slurs or gang affiliation . . . .

Id.

On March 2, 2006, plaintiff D.B. and two other students initiated a federal civil action in this Court alleging violations of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights because defendants Lafon and Blount County School Board prohibited them from wearing clothing at school that depicts the confederate battle flag. See D.B. ex rel. Brogdon v. Lafon, et al., 3:06-CV-75 (E.D. Tenn.). The defendants in that case banned depictions of the confederate battle flag because it allegedly "causes disruption to the educational process," which violates section 4f of the dress code. Neither plaintiff Miller or defendant Williamson are parties to that civil action. See id.

On March 3, 2006, shortly after defendant Lafon was served with process in that case, defendant Williamson sent plaintiff Miller, who is plaintiff D.B.'s girlfriend, and several other students who are not parties to either civil action to the principal's office for reported violations of the dress code. See Doc. 1 at 3. There is no allegation that plaintiff D.B. was among the group sent to the principal's office. See id. While at the principal's office, defendant Lafon told ...


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