Candy Cane Discrimination Case Heads Back to Court

Miracle on Park Blvd.

Christmas - tis the season for an inherent religious holiday to be celebrated skittishly at diverse public schools.

In 2003, third grader Jonathon Morgan, a Plano ISD student, learned the joy of the season when he was banned from passing out candy canes with the Christian legend of their origin at a "Winter Party."

Administrators at Jonathon's school said the candy canes violated a district policy which prevents students from passing out, "any information or media in the classroom."

The school is also accused of banning students from giving out invitations to church events and from writing "Merry Christmas" on cards for military members overseas.

The conservative Liberty Legal Institute (LLI) sued the Plano ISD on behalf of the Morgans and other families who allegedly experienced religious discrimination at the school. Now, six years later, the case is finally headed back to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans where judges will review it once more.

"Schools are not zones of religious censorship where the kids are bound and gagged as to their religious faith ... neither teachers, nor students, leave their rights at the schoolhouse gate," Kelly Shackleford, said chief council at the Liberty Legal Institute.

The school district said in a statement that it accepts diversity, especially around winter break parties, but that the distribution of cards, gifts and treats is only appropriate during "non-instructional times."

Sen. John Cornyn has filed a brief with the court supporting LLI's position.

Holly LaFon has written and worked for various local publications including D Magazine and Examiner.

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