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Peter Zenger Middle School
The Peter Zenger Middle School is a large public middle school in Flushing, Queens. Dr. Futura Leader is the newly appointed principal. Yesterday, she was called to attend the Chancellor’s emergency all-day Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education meeting. Mr. I.M. Strict, assistant principal, was in charge while she was at the meeting.
During yesterday’s lunch period, Mr. Strict spotted Tai Nguyen sporting a “Cuomo Sucks” T-shirt. Tai is an English Language Learner who just enrolled in the school last week from Vietnam. Although he was fifteen, he was placed in eighth grade because of his lack of English language proficiency. Mr. Strict told him to either immediately take off the T-shirt or be suspended. When Tai didn’t respond, Mr. Strict suspended him.
Meanwhile, Lotta Dish was on the other side of the lunchroom handing out free copies of her latest newsletter—Phashion Plate—modeled after Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine. This issue was devoted to the school cafeteria and its atrocious food, lack of cleanliness, and poor service. Mr. Strict confiscated each of the issues and told her that she could no longer hand out copies of her newsletter.
Yesterday at dismissal, Jules Canon (JC to his friends), considered a computer whiz by his friends and teachers, was distributing flyers to his fellow students as they left the building. The flyer merely said that there was important information about the school staff and included a website. Seeing a crowd around him blocking the school exit, Mr. Strict told him “take it outside.”
Curious about the flyer, Mr. Strict visited the website using the address on the flyer. At the site he found comments about him. The website advises the visitor that I. M. Strict is “a homosexual LGBTQ advocate who supports transgender student participation in sports and use of school bathrooms.” Further, the website indicates that I. M. Strict should not be an assistant principal by “virtue of a clear absence of morals.” Mr. Strict was so outraged at the information on the website that he called JC’s parents told them that their son would be severely disciplined.
As Dr. Leader is entering the building this morning, the local television station is bombarding her with questions about disciplining students for exercising their freedom of speech. Waiting in front of the general office to see her are:
Tai Nguyen, his mother, and an advocate from the Organization of Asian Americans
Lotta Dish and her father who is an attorney with the ACLU
JC and his mother Dee Lord, a deacon with the local church
Questions to address:
What are the legal issues?
What are the legal arguments for and against what Mr. Strict did in each situation?
What should Dr. Leader’s determination be for each case? Please explain.
What could Dr. Leader do to prevent incidents like these from occurring in the future?
Respond to this activity by clicking the “Submit Assignment” button and toggling over to the “Text Entry” tab. Submit a response of no more than 1,000 words addressing the questions at the end.