Arlington County school officials are opposing attempts by a neo-Nazi organization to celebrate "White Pride Day" at Yorktown Senior High School in November.
The head of the local Nazi party said yesterday, however, that the group is relying on a 10-year-old court ruling--also involving Yorktown--that upheld the party's right to use public facilities for private meetings.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled then that the group should not have been denied a request to hold a meeting at Yorktown in 1970, citing a private group's right to assemble and speak freely at a public place.
The 1970 meeting--a party commemorating Adolf Hitler's birthday--had been banned by school officials.
Matt Koehl, commander of the American Nazi party headquarters in Arlington, said the group has applied to rent a room at Yorktown High School next month specifically "to take advantage" of the court decision.
"We feel we won the right 10 years ago to use the facility at Yorktown," Koehl said yesterday, "Better late than never."
He also said his group had used a county school for a two-day seminar two or three years ago in the summer.
School officials said they could not recall such an occasion.
The commander said the group has held its annual White Pride Day ceremony at local hotels and motels in previous years.
He said the group chose Yorktown, located in a predominantly white and affluent community at the northern tip of the county, because of its "ambience" and convenient location.
Several dozen people were invited to the program but the Nazi group would make it open to the public if school officials wished, Koehl said.
The group leader said the organization hopes to use the school for future meetings and programs.
The group, which changed its name last year from the National Socialist White People's Party to the New Order, applied last August to use a classroom at the school for a program scheduled for the evening of Nov. 5.
Since then, Yorktown principal Steve Kurcis said he has sought legal advice to determine whether the group can be prevented from meeting at the school.
"I have an obligation to look at purposes and reasons behind the activities involved and make a determination if it could disrupt the school in any way," he said yesterday.
Calls from citizens protesting the Nazi request have poured into the school, Kurcis said.
In Arlington, principals may grant nonprofit youth, education and religious groups and political and business organizations use of school facilities for a small fee.
Koehl said his organization is chartered by the state as a nonprofit educational organization.
County Attorney Charles Flinn said the group could not be banned because school officials find its views "repugnant."
Kurcis said the final decision on whether the Nazis can meet at Yorktown may be up to School Superintendent Charles E. Nunley.
The superintendent was unavailable for comment yesterday.