Student sues for right to wear Confederate clothing

SOUTH CAROLINA -- A 15-year-old high school student is suing a school district for disciplining her when she tried to wear clothing that featured the Confederate flag.

Attorneys for Candice Hardwick, a sophomore at Latta High School in Latta, S.C., filed suit Thursday in a federal court against her school district, alleging that Hardwick was unfairly punished for wearing t-shirts that bore images of the Confederate flag.

''The school was denying her freedom of speech,'' said Roger McCredie, director of the Southern Legal Resource Center, which is representing Hardwick and her family in the case.

According to a press release, the Southern Legal Resource Center is a civil rights legal organization based in Black Mountain, N.C., that addresses cases that deal with Southern heritage and culture.

In a press release, the school district said Hardwick's wearing of the Confederate flag ''disrupted the education environment.''

Confederate flags have sparked racial tension among district students in the past, the press release said.

John Kirby, superintendent of the Latta School District, said Hardwick was disciplined for violating the portion of the school's dress code that prohibits ''the wearing of any articles of clothing or other items which may foreseeably disrupt or interfere with the school environment.''

In an article in The Charlotte Observer, Harwick said she was forced to change clothes or turn her shirt inside-out when wearing clothing that featured the Confederate flag. She said when she attended Latta Middle School, she was suspended twice for wearing the shirts and threatened with being kicked off the school's track team.

The shirts did not feature anything ''profane or objectionable,'' McCredie said.

According to the press release from the Southern Legal Resource Center, Hardwick's lawsuit seeks to change the school's dress code policy, expunge her disciplinary record and obtain unspecified monetary damages for her experiences.

Latta High School, news, South Carolina