The school board voted 7-1 Tuesday night to continue a court case brought by the ACLU on behalf of two middle two students who were disciplined for wearing "I Heart Boobies" breast cancer awareness bracelets.
In August, the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the ACLU, ruling that the district had no right to keep the students from wearing the bracelets.
Should the school district keep up the fight in the I Heart Boobies case? Tell us in the comments.
But district solicitor John Freund said he thinks the case has "a reasonable chance of being selected" by the Supreme Court.
He said the district has both constitutional and policy grounds to continue the case: at issue is "the authority of school officials to decide what is civil discourse and what isn’t."
Freund added that some national organizations had lent their support to the district, including the National Association of School Boards.*
Board member Frank Pintabone cast the only no vote.
“I’m gonna let them run with the ball," he said. "I think we should be done with it. Let it go. We lost 20? 30? times, I don’t even know anymore.”
Even board members who approved of continuing the case seemed to express some reservations about it.
“This was a difficult decsion that we had to make, and some of us made it kicking and screaming," said Baron Vanderburg.
And March Elementary parent Tara Gilligan chastised the board for spending money "fighting what I think is a silly case," and for introducing the measure as a last-minute addendum.
“It was kind of non-transparent," Freund acknowledged. "But most things litigation wise, kind of have to be.”
As for the cost, Freund said he'd be "surprised if it's $2,000 or $3,000."
The case began in 2010 when the district suspended two girls --Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez -- for wearing the bracelets, arguing they were inappropriate. The girls testified that they only meant to raise awareness of breast cancer.
In 2011, U.S. District Judge Mary McLaughlin found that the bracelets were not lewd or vulgar, as the district had claimed, and said school officials had not shown that wearing them was disruptive.
The school district appealed that ruling, arguing it "substantially undermines the authority of school officials to promote civil dialogue and maintain decorum in the schools."
The case was international news, making it to Great Britain's The Daily Mail. The lede on one of that paper's stories: "The judge was no boob."
*This story initially reported that the National Association of School Psychologists was also supporting the district's case. But the NASP said on Thursday that it had told the district it would not support the district's position.