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Ponce v. Socorro Independent School District

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
508 F.3d 765 (2007)


E.P. (plaintiff) was a sophomore student at Montwood High School (the school). E.P. kept a notebook diary, which detailed several first-person violent attacks against students in the Socorro Independent School District (the district) (defendant). The notebook included a description of a coordinated shooting on the school and predicted that the attack would occur on the day that the author’s close friends graduated from high school. E.P. told another student about the notebook and showed him portions of the contents. The other student reported this to a teacher, who then shared the information with school administrators. Assistant Principal Jesus Aguirre met with E.P. and viewed the notebook. E.P. claimed that the notebook was a work of fiction. Aguirre read the notebook several times that evening and determined that E.P.’s writing posed a terroristic threat to the safety of the school’s students and the campus. E.P. was then suspended for violating the Student Code of Conduct and placed in the school’s alternative-education program. E.P.’s parents withdrew E.P. from the school and enrolled him in a private school. E.P. sued the district under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a violation of E.P.’s First Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. E.P. sought a preliminary injunction to prevent the district from placing him in the alternative-education program. The trial court determined that E.P. had shown a substantial likelihood of success and granted the preliminary injunction. The district appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Jolly, J.)

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