Teens’ Prom Squabble Taken Out of the Courts

     PITTSBURGH (CN) – A teenager who was cited for criminal harassment after wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Not Guilty” to high school has resolved his free-speech case against school administrators, according to a federal judge’s order.




     David Hood was an honors student at Penn Hills High School when he, his twin brother and three friends donned “Not Guilty” shirts after a local magistrate determined that bitter verbal exchanges between Hood and a female student were “nothing more than a high school quarrel over a broken prom date,” according to Hood’s May 2010 lawsuit.
     Even though the shirt didn’t violate school dress code, and despite the fact that Hood had not seen or spoken to the young woman while wearing the shirt, administrators slapped Hood with a 10-day suspension. They also “pressed harassment charges even though the alleged victim was not harassed,” according to the suit.
     Hood says he was barred from attending his prom – “an experience he will never be able to recapture” – and was prohibited from “walking with his twin brother and the rest of his class for graduation.”
     “Mr. Hood will never be able to say ‘I remember my graduation,'” according to the complaint. “Mr. Hood’s parents will never be able to say they saw their twin boys graduate together.”
     “Because school officials pressed harassment charges, Mr. Hood was [also] denied entry into the Navy’s Delayed Entry Program at an elevated rank and pay scale due to a ‘moral disqualification,'” according to the suit.
     Chief U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster dismissed the case without explanation in a one-page order on Tuesday.
     Lawyers for the parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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