Judge: School didn't violate rights of young Packers fan

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- A federal judge ruled a school district did not deprive a fourth-grade student of his constitutional rights when it barred him from wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey to a Minnesota Vikings party.

Rocky Sonkowsky and his father, Roy, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the New Prague School District in December 2000, alleging that his right to freedom of expression was violated.

The lawsuit said Rocky, who was a 9-year-old attending New Prague Intermediate School, was barred from a party at the Vikings headquarters in Eden Prairie in 1999 because he wanted to wear his Packers jersey.

The district denied punishing Rocky for cheering for the Packers.


Officials said a teacher had spoken with Rocky on several occasions about disrespectful behavior toward staff and students and that his punishment was related to those instances.

Judge Ann Montgomery ruled Wednesday that while elementary school students are entitled to some First Amendment protection, they do not possess the same protection as high school students.

The U.S. Supreme Court hasn't directly decided where to draw the line but it has suggested that fourth-graders don't have the same rights as high school students.

In this case, Montgomery wrote there is no constitutional right for a 9-year-old to wear a Packers jersey to elementary school.

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