A number of students from Itawamba Agricultural High School have joined the discussion on the post The MEANEST Town in America. According to the most recent comments, there were three
parent run proms
for students on the night of April 2, the night of the country club prom that Constance attended with five others. The student, screen name fentdog goes on to say:
I don’t much about the school run prom. I do know that everyone went to Evergreen because more work was put into it.
As the photos show, a lot of work went into the Evergreen prom, including a marquee tent with decorations like huge cut outs of masks seen above, balloon arches and disco lights.
The student writes that the Evergreen event did not have tickets, that there were no invitations, instead kids were “told about” the Evergreen event. The student writes about Constance
people tried to go contact her, but she would never pick up her phone. On the night of the prom, she goes to a different one…the school sponsored one. She didn’t know that everyone had decided to go to Evergreen, thus she had a fit. I can personally recall trying to call Constance to go to Evergreen….but she never answered.
Hmmm, okay. So then why wasn’t she emailed, or Facebooked about it? And what about the other kids who showed up at the country club?
The Evergreen prom/dance party, the one which had photos that appeared on Facebook, the one with kids dressed to the nines cruising away stretch SUVs, the one “everyone went to” where two girls where photographed tongue kissing, shared the same theme as the original school prom which was to be held at the IAHS Commons, according to a memo, dated February 5, which appears to be from the school, issued by two teachers.
The apparent memo about the original prom stated the theme, Masquerade. That theme is seen in photos from the Evergreen party.
The memo also laid down the criteria for the students’ guests. It clearly states that guests
must be of the opposite sex
Constance challenged that.
Constance isn’t the first student to face discrimination at IAHS. Just before Constance spoke out, another student was forced to leave town.
On February 4, 2010, WTVA reported that IAHS student Juin Baize was suspended for wearing make up, women’s clothing and boots to school. Juin, who per Dan Savage, currently prefers the use of the male pronoun, said
They told me that I can not come to school dressed like a girl.
The story continues:
And that’s unfair…says Juin’s friend, senior Constance McMillen.
She says a group of girls came to school Thursday morning, dressed as guys in support of Juin dressing like he does.
Constance says the principal immediately told Juin to go home.
McMillen said, “Mr. Wiygul came to Juin and told him he had to leave and I stopped Mr. Wiygul and I said Mr. Wiygul why are you making him leave? Because he’s dressed like a girl? And he said yes, and I said you know that’s not fair because all of us are dressed like boys. Why aren’t you telling us to leave? And he just said I’m following orders from the school board and I said you can’t rightfully make him leave and not make us leave because, I mean, it’s the same thing.”
Juin was was given a suspension notice and sent home, and when he returned to school after his first suspension, he was suspended again. The reasons for a student’s suspension are supposed to be noted on the suspension form, but that part of Baize’s suspension notice was left blank, according to Kristy Bennett, legal director of the ACLU of Mississippi.
Juin’s case was a situation where a transgender student wanted to attend school dressed in feminine clothing, and the school district would not even let him attend school.
Neither the superintendent nor school board attorney wanted to go on camera with WTVA, but both did talk to WTVA by phone at the time of the incident, telling the news station that they.
are simply following the handbook rules, which allows a student to be sent home, if he or she is determined to be a distraction.
The situation escalated, and Juin’s mother, who had just relocated from Indiana to stay with relatives, moved Juin out of state to live friends, fearing for Juin’s safety. Juin is currently attending a virtual school, and the ACLU which was investigating the cae said they won’t be pursuing it.
Juin not being in Fulton makes it difficult for us to pursue any kind of legal action here. And personally, I feel it may be a better decision for Juin to relocate and move on with his life.
The “distraction” issue is being used by the American Family Association to bolster the IAHS school board’s decision. In an editorial published on the Itawamba County Journal site, NEM360.com, Bryan Fisher, the AFA’s Director of Issues Analysis cites a Supreme Court decision, Morse v. Frederick (2007)
that school officials are entitled to restrict student speech and expressions in order to maintain an orderly, disruption-free school environment.
But a reader succinctly refutes that, stating that Fisher misrepresents Morse v. Fredrick, which was case about drug usage, quoting an analysis:
Joseph Frederick, a student at Juneau-Douglas High School in Juneau, Alaska, displayed a banner at a high school event on which was written: “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” The principle, Deborah Morse, regarded the banner as promoting illegal drugs and confiscated the banner and suspended the student. After the Ninth Circuit held that the principle violated the student’s First Amendment’s rights, the Supreme Court overturned and held that his rights were not violated…
Chief Justice Roberts wrote “[And] that the rights of students ‘must be applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment.’ … Consistent with these principles, we hold that schools may take steps to safeguard those entrusted to their care from speech that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging drug use.”
The environment at IAHS may come up very soon. Chris Keifer reports in NEM360.com
The American Civil Liberties Union is questioning the motives behind the two events as it drafts its lawsuit seeking damages from the Itawamba County School District…
We are disappointed at the sparse attendance (at the event McMillen attended), and we’re looking further into the situation,” said Kristy Bennett, legal director of the ACLU of Mississippi.
“Whatever we find will be brought to the court’s attention, whether it is in the damages trial, or whatever. There will still be a trial on the merits. The case didn’t end in the preliminary hearing.”