KNOXVILLE — A federal court jury in Knoxville says it hasn't been able to reach a verdict over whether a school dress code banning the Confederate flag violated a student's free speech rights.
The judge told the panel to return today, and asked lawyers for the two sides to consider ways to resolve the dispute if the jury can't render a unanimous verdict.
Tommy DeFoe, 18, was suspended by Anderson County school officials more than 40 times for violating the dress code. He received his certificate of completion from the vocational school last fall.
School administrators feared DeFoe's Confederate flag shirts and belt buckle could inflame racial tensions.
The all-white jury deliberated for 10 hours Thursday before informing the judge they couldn't reach a unanimous decision.
DeFoe's lawsuit is the latest in a string of cases across the South since the 1990s challenging dress codes that banned Confederate flag apparel.
CLINTON, Tenn. — Likening the case to the racial discord of the mid- to late 1950s in Anderson County, county school officials on Thursday night said this week's U.S. federal court hearing over a student's right to wear the Confederate flag symbol is being funded "by outside sources."
"Regardless of what you read there's a lot more to it than our enforcement of our dress code," John Burrell, Anderson County Board of Education chairman, said during the county school board's regular monthly meeting...
...According to a November 2006 story published in The Oak Ridger, DeFoe's lawsuit was filed by an attorney employed by the Black Mountain, N.C.-based Southern Legal Resource Center Inc.
"In 1956, an outsider, John Kasper, came in and created a problem," Stonecipher said, referring to the racial unrest in Clinton that resulted in the 1958 bombing of Clinton High School. "Then, in 2006, it's an outsider coming in looking for a landmark case."Kasper was among those who opposed the court-ordered desegregation of Clinton High School in August 1956....