High School Business Law: Case Study

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Case Study: Counts vs. Cedarville School District Situation The Counts v. Cedarville School District court case was about the Harry Potter book series. After receiving a complaint from a parent, the Cedarville School Board voted 3-2 to remove all of the books from the Harry Potter series from the open shelves of public school libraries. Students who wished to read or check out these books could do so only with written parental permission. Several students and their parents filed suit, seeking the return of the books to the open shelves. In the course of discovery, the School Board members who voted to remove the books acknowledged that they had not read many of the books and that they removed them because they exposed students to the "religion of witchcraft." The ultimate questions: Do students have a right to read? Does book censorship violate the First Amendment and at the expense of who? As the final verdict on April 22, 2003, the Supreme Court ordered the return of the books back to library shelves. Background Information The Court cited the Tinker case and ruled that there was no evidence that reasonably showed substantial disruption or material interference with school activities if students were allowed unfettered access to the books. Schools may not restrict access to the books based on the ideas expressed, whether religious or secular. The Court wrote that even a minimal loss of First Amendment rights is injurious. Requiring parental permission for certain books can cause a “stigmatization” of children who choose to read the books (seen as “bad books”). The Harry Potter books were returned to unrestricted shelves in school library. The authors Todd DeMitchell and John Carney explain that, “[Harry Potter] is reviled by some real-life Muggles-those who believe that his adventures of discovery at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft

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