Judge says teen can keep nose stud

Ariana Iacono

October 8, 2010 5:45:47 PM PDT
A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Friday that allows a 14-year-old Johnston County student to return to the classroom for now.

The ACLU has filed suit on behalf of Ariana Iacono after her school repeatedly suspended her for coming to class with a small nose stud in her face.

Iacono and her mother belong to a religious group called the Church of Body Modification. They say the nose stud is part of her religious beliefs, and she should be allowed to wear it.

The school says her nose stud violates the dress code, but the ACLU believes the Iaconos' rights are being violated by the policy.

Friday, Judge Malcolm Howard issued a restraining order that will stay in place until another hearing on an injunction can be held November 3.

If approved, the injunction would stay in place until the outcome of the trial.

Johnston County school officials had little to say about the ruling.

Superintendent Ed Croom called it a matter for the courts: "This is a matter of student discipline which makes it a part of non-public student record. Due to privacy laws, there is no further comment at this time."

The ACLU released a statement from Iacono's mother:

"We are thrilled that Ariana can return to her studies," said Nikki Iacono. "She has missed 22 days of school already this year because the school has wrongfully forced her to choose between her education and our family's religion. Ariana was an honor roll student in middle school, and she is eager to get back to her classes and continue with her education as soon as possible."

"We are very pleased with Judge Howard's ruling today," said Jon Sasser, Chairman of the ACLU-NCLF's Legal Committee and lead attorney on this case. "Ariana's nose stud in no way poses a health or safety risk to her or to others, nor is she disrupting the learning environment or interfering with other students' rights to receive an education. There is no reason she shouldn't be allowed to resume her studies while this lawsuit is pending."

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