K. A. v. Pocono Mountain Sch. Dist., No. 12-1728 (3d Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
K.A., a fifth-grade student, attempted to distribute, before the start of class, an invitation to a children’s Christmas party at her church. Students were normally allowed to distribute invitations to birthday parties, Halloween parties, and similar events during non-instructional time. The teacher told K.A. that the principal would have to approve the flyer. The principal later notified K.A.’s father that the superintendent had not approved the flyer, based on a policy concerning events not related to the school. Her father filed suit, alleging that the school district had violated K.A.’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court, applying the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), and finding no evidence that distribution of the invitations would threaten a “substantial disruption‖ of the school environment or interfere with the rights of others,” granted preliminary injunctive relief. The Third Circuit affirmed, stating that the original policy and subsequent revisions were broader than allowed under Tinker and its progeny, which state that student expression can be regulated only if it causes disruption or interferes with the rights of others, or if it falls into a narrow exception.