NY School Sued After Teen Suspended Over Rosary

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A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Oneida Middle School in Schenectady, N.Y. to reinstate 7th grader Raymond Hosier who was suspended for wearing rosary beads, pending a hearing.

The boy's mother filed a federal lawsuit over what she said is a violation of her son's civil rights.

Hosier was happy to return to school Wednesday after being suspended for wearing Roman Catholic rosary beads to class. The school claims the beads are not allowed, because they could be considered gang-related.

Hosier, 13, said he only wears the beads as an expression of his faith in God and to honor his lost loved ones.

"I was just mad that they were suspending me for rosary beads and I told them I wasn't in a gang and they just resemble my brother and my uncle," he said.

The American Center for Law and Justice filed the lawsuit on Hosier's behalf, arguing that the school district's actions violated his right to free speech and religious expression.

The group urged the court to immediately permit the 7th grader to return to school.

"He was jumping up and down I don't think he thought this was going to happen," said Hosier's mother, Chantal. "For right now he gets to go to school with his rosary and he can't get suspended."

Mrs. Hosier told CBN News she filed the suit, because she was tired of seeing the rights of Christians trampled.

"We all have rights and it's about time that we took our rights back and stop letting people that are in higher positions than us like a principal or legislator or whomever take our rights from us because this is America," she said.

The lawsuit urges the court to declare the school's disciplinary action unconstitutional and to declare the schools dress code policy also unconstitutional, to prevent it from being used to punish students like Hosier in the future. It also asks for a jury trial.

The judge ordered a hearing to be held in the case on June 11.

Experts said that Hosier has a good chance of winning his case. Precedents have already been set since more students have been filing challenges to protect their freedom of expression.

Other school districts have punished students for wearing rosaries. In February, a 14-year-old boy in Haverstraw, in southeastern New York, was suspended for a day for wearing a rosary. And in Texas, a Dallas high school student was told to stop wearing her rosary in September 2008.

*The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.