SETTLEMENT REACHED IN PROM DRESS CASE
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY -- Nearly two years after she was barred from her high school prom for wearing an evening dress patterend after a Confederate flag, Southern Legal Resource Center client Jacqueline Duty was vindicated as her former school board agreed to settle her lawsuit against it out of court.
The SLRC's local counsel in the case, Kentucky Attorney Earl Ray Neal, confirmed the settlement Tuesday, adding that the precise terms of the settlement, including the amount of damages awarded, will not be disclosed under under mutual agreement by attorneys for both sides. The case had been scheduled for trial in August, 2006.
"We know this comes as a tremendous boost for Jacqueline, especially at this time," said SLRC Executive Director Roger McCredie, who noted that Ms. Duty, now a college student, faces surgery tomorrow. "She couldn't ask for a better get-well card," he said.
Ms. Duty's case stemmed from events of May 1, 2004, when she was prevented from entering the senior dance at Russell High School wearing the red sequined ball gown she and her mother had worked on for two years. The dress featured a blue and white "half-X" diagonal stripe with stars, alluding to the basic design of the Confederate battle flag. School officials termed the dress "too contronversial." Following the incident, the Duty family contacted the SLRC, whose chief trial counsel, Kirk D. Lyons, together with Attorney Neal, had formed the winning legal team in another Kentucky case, Castorina v. Madison County Schools. That case overturned a school system's ban on Confederate-themed clothing.
Ms. Duty's case attracted international media attention and the school board's withdrawal is already being hailed as a highly significant and far reaching Southern heritage victory.