Loudoun County school officials, after failing to keep chocolate cream pie thrower Connie Schillreff out of her senior prom, have now claimed victory in their effort to keep the 18-year-old from attending graduation.
School Board Chairman J. B. Vorous and Supt. Robert E. Butt, learning of a Wednesday decision by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which dissolved a lower court order permitting Schillreff to attend graduation activities, issued a statement concluding:
"The practical effect of this action by the Court of Appeals is that as of this time the discipline imposed by the school board will go forward and the young lady will not be allowed to participate in commencement and baccalaureate activities."
Schillreff's lawyer Kenneth Crosson said yesterday he would ask U.S. District Court Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. in Alexandria to reinstate a temporary restraining order today that would permit her to attend Friday's graduation.
Schillreff pushed a pie into the face of Board Run High School vice principle Jean Bibb on May 3 at the end of the senior class breakfast and in the presence of about 100 classmates. She was suspended from all classes and end-of-school activities and told by school officials that she would receive instruction at home and get her diploma by mail.
Bryan on June 1 rejected Crosson's arguments that Schillreff had been denied her constitutional rights in the school's hearing process that resulted in her suspension. But he granted a temporary restraining order allowing her to attend graduation activities pending her appeal - with the warning that he would withdraw the restraining order if there were any outbursts by her class at last Saturday's prom.
On Monday, Loudoun school attorneys appeared before an appeals court panel and asked that the restraining order be dissolved. The panel ruled that Bryan had not applied a strict enough legal standard in granting the order.
The Court of Appeals has not ruled on the merits of the case, only on the legal point of the restraining order. However, with the baccalaureate set for tonight and graduation Friday night, the issue will become moot in the absence of a quick final ruling.
Schillreff said at her Sterling Park home yesterday that the prom last Saturday had been "great . . . everybody was glad to see me but nobody got rowdy or anything. I had a really nice time. Everybody was saying 'we'll see you Friday.'"
"But now I'm afraid to get my hopes up anymore," she said.