The Simpson County School District along with members of the administrative staff are being sued in federal court on a Constitutional amendment issue.
The suit, which names Superintendent Greg Paes, Asst. Superintendent of Human Resources Dr. Robert Sanders, and Simpson Central Principal Dr. Antionette Woodall as plaintiffs, says that the school district violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U. S. Constitution.
The situation arose when 9-year-old Lydia Booth wore a protective mask to class at Simpson Central School that stated “Jesus Loves Me.”
Booth wore the mask on other occasions, and the lawsuit stated that “it did not cause disruption or incident.”
However, on this particular day she wore the mask and was told that she would have to remove it and wear one provided by the school. She complied with the instruction from Dr. Woodall.
According to the suit, the student’s mother, Jennifer Booth, was contacted about the situation. At this point Dr. Woodall said that the message was “a violation of school policy” despite the fact that students were allowed to wear masks that read “Black Lives Matter” as well as logos for professional ball teams.
The lawsuit contends that school officials do not have the authority to limit “free speech which is guaranteed through the First Amendment to the Constitution.” In addition the Fourteenth Amendment allows anyone the same rights under the law. It also prevents government from adopting vague standards in regard to policy, stating that the term defining what students may wear in the district dress code, “religious in nature,” is too vague.
The suit is being filed by Sharkey Burke of the firm of Anderson, Crawley and Burke in Ridgeland. They are associated with the organization Alliance Defending Freedom, which has an Arizona address.
The suit was filed in federal court Monday afternoon. The lawsuit asks the court to halt officials from enforcing their policy.
The child’s parents, Matthew and Jennifer Booth, are filing the suit based on restriction of religious liberty.