Maryland school board asks for dismissal in Talbot lacrosse players’ suit


Casey Edsall, 17, left, and Graham Dennis, 17,right, both juniors and Easton High School lacrosse players, were disciplined for carrying a lighter and pen knife, respectively, in their lacrosse bags. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

A Maryland school board asked a federal court Thursday to dismiss a civil rights lawsuit filed by families of two former high school lacrosse players who were suspended for carrying small knives and a lighter in their sports gear bags that they said they were using to fix their equipment.

The families alleged in their complaint that school officials in Talbot County, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, violated the students’ constitutional rights to due process and their protections against unlawful search and seizure.

The suit was filed last month in U.S. District Court in Baltimore against Talbot County’s school board and four current or former school officials.

The Maryland State Board of Education in 2012 ruled in favor of the lacrosse players - in a rare state reversal of student punishment - saying that the case was about “context and the appropriate exercise of discretion.” The board overturned the suspensions and ordered the incident be expunged from student records.

In its motion for dismissal, Talbot County disputes the legal basis of the suit and cites protections to school officials from legal action. It argues the state board’s action “does not necessarily give rise to a federal cause of action for monetary damages.”

Talbot County school officials also contend the search was not unlawful and the students’ due process rights were not violated.

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.
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