South Carolina


In 2009 a federal district court upheld the Latta School District's ban on Confederate flag displays in school.  A lawsuit had been brought by the parents of a student who had been disciplined for wearing T-shirts with depictions of the Confederate flag.  The court held that because of past incidents of racial tension, school officials could reasonably predict that "substantial disruption" could be caused by the flag display. 

On November 5, 2003 police staged an early morning raid on Stratford High School , Goose Creek , South Carolina .  The police in SWAT team uniforms and bulletproof vests pointed guns at students' heads, and forced other students to kneel, face a wall or lie on the floor in handcuffs while a dog sniffed them for drugs.  No drugs or weapons were found. The school is mostly white, but the raid occurred when most of those at the school were Black students who had arrived on an early morning bus.  One of them, Joshua Ody, said "I felt like I had less rights than other people that day."

The raid was recorded by a police camera and the school's surveillance cameras.  After the videotape was shown on state and national television, there were demonstrations in opposition and support of the principal who had called in the police.  He resigned early the following year. 

The ACLU meanwhile had filed a "class action" lawsuit on the students' behalf, which charged school officials and the police with violating students' rights to be free from unlawful search and seizure and with the use of excessive force.  A settlement was reached in April 2006 that sets a new standard for students' constitutional rights.  If police do not have a warrant, they will need either probable cause, pressing circumstances or voluntary consent to operate on school grounds.  The settlement also establishes a $1.6 million dollar fund to compensate the students and help cover medical costs arising from the incident. 

View a videotape of the raid: