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DECISIONS CONSTITUTIONAL LAW the application of a school district’s speech policy to parents at after-school meetings was unconstitutional and objectively unreasonable, making summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds inappropriate for school officials enforcing the policy, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said on July 15. Chiu v. Plano Indep. Sch. Dist., No. 02-41218. After Texas’ Plano school district proposed a new math curriculum, parents tried to distribute protest pamphlets and carry signs at after-school meetings. At separate meetings, James Davis, a district official, and Corky Criswell, a principal, barred the parents from distributing the pamphlets, citing a district policy requiring prior approval for distributing written material on school grounds. The parents sued the district, Davis, Criswell and others, arguing that their First Amendment rights had been violated. When a Texas federal court granted summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds to all defendants but Davis and Criswell, the duo appealed, arguing that they were enforcing the policy in good faith. Rejecting that argument, the 5th Circuit said, “Because Davis and Criswell cannot contend that the application of [the speech policy] to parents at a parents-only after-school meeting had a significant bearing on the educational environment, the policy was obviously unconstitutional. Consequently, Davis and Criswell’s enforcement of that policy against [the parents], regardless of their subjective intent, was objectively unreasonable.”

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