A group of Fairfax High School students and their parents filed a $1.1 million suit against Principal Harry Holsinger in Alexandria federal court yesterday, charging he violated their First Amendment rights by dropping "Johnny Reb" as the school mascot and banning most references to the Confederacy from the school.
In February, Holsinger said the school's flag, a blue and gray version of the Confederate battle flag, and the name of the "Confederettes" drill team would be changed at the request of black students and their parents, and the county school board has ruled that Holsinger acted within his powers.
But the plaintiffs, six students and three adults, said in a statement that many of the minority students, who make up 5 percent of the 1,500 student population, have no problem with the Confederate symbols.
"It is Mr. Holsinger who is trying to make this into a racial issue," the statement read.
The name of the athletic teams, which for the 50-year existence of the school have been the Rebels, will not be changed, Holsinger said in February.
The suit asks for an injunction keeping Holsinger from choosing a new school mascot without the consent of a majority of students.