Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Teen rapper case settles

The Latour family, represented by the ACLU of PA, has settled their lawsuit with the Riverside Beaver School District. Anthony Latour was expelled from school last school year for rap lyrics he had written on the internet. Here is an excerpt from our press release:
Kim Watterson, a Pittsburgh-based lawyer from the international law firm Reed Smith who handled the case on a pro bono basis, said that she was pleased with the settlement: "In August, the court reaffirmed the basic constitutional principle that words by themselves rarely can justify censorship, as well as the principle that school students have speech rights protected by the First Amendment," said Watterson.

In praising the agreement as a victory for students' rights, Watterson added, "The settlement not only resolves the Latours' dispute with the school district, but also results in important changes to the school policy, ensuring that Riverside's students' speech rights will be protected - especially when they are in their own homes. Although the courts have given school officials authority to regulate and punish students' expression while they are in school, teachers and administrators need to recognize that the First Amendment limits their authority to play parent when the students are home."

Also, the Latour family released a statement. Here is an excerpt:
This was very unfortunate. This dispute arose from two able-bodied teenagers taunting one another and two young rappers engaging in a lyrical contest. In our generation, this behavior took place on the playground, where parents were not around to hear. We are now living in the age of the Internet, the new playground of our children, where parents and educators have access to these communications. Before school administrators jumped to any conclusions, everyone involved should have been invited to sit down and discuss the situation.

Full press release and family statement


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