Saturday October 22nd 2005, 7:42 pm
Filed under: Free Speech, Government, Schools
In upstate New York, seventh-grader Rebecca Braiman-Dewey was told to take off her anti-Bush buttons by a teacher’s aide.
The Brighton school district is investigating whether it needs to train staffers on First Amendment rights after a Twelve Corners Middle School student was told to remove two buttons bashing President Bush.
As instructed by a teacher’s aide Sept. 28, seventh-grader Rebecca Braiman-Dewey took off the souvenirs she had bought four days earlier at an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C.
The buttons read “Impeach Bush” and “Fire the Liar” — the latter showing President Bush’s face with a Pinnochio-sized nose.
The 12-year-old and her mother, Nancy Braiman, charged at the next Board of Education meeting Oct. 11 that the aide violated the girl’s First Amendment rights to freedom of expression. Braiman asked the district to conduct a workshop for all employees on the Bill of Rights.
“I’m concerned about people not being clear on the First Amendment,” said Braiman, a local political activist. “I’m hoping that our school district will take some kind of lead, be an example for the rest of the community.
The Supreme Court has ruled that students have a right to express themselves with their clothing.
Specifically, in 1969 that students in Iowa against the Vietnam War have the right to wear black armbands to school (Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist.)
Returning to the school in Rochester, New York:
Superintendent Henry Peris is compiling a report on the issue…
In the meantime, Rebecca Braiman-Dewey, originally planning to wear the buttons only for a week, has made them part of her daily wardrobe — without rebuke.
“Now they’re a really big deal to me, so I’m going to wear them every day.”