PORTLAND — A federal lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of Yarmouth High School’s extracurricular honor code has been dropped by the plaintiffs.

Michael Waxman, a Portland attorney, sued this month on behalf of a 16-year-old lacrosse player and her parents. The girl was suspended from the team after school officials saw a photograph of her holding a beer can at a weekend party. The photo had been posted on a social networking website.

Waxman said the girl has served her suspension and no longer wishes to press the action. But the broader disagreements over the honor code are far from settled, he said Wednesday.

“I still believe that the code is an unconstitutional extension of governmental power into the homes and lives of Yarmouth students and parents,” Waxman said. He called on Yarmouth school officials to hold a meeting at which residents can express their views about the code.

David Ray, chairman of the Yarmouth School Committee, said the honor code is constitutional and he was confident that the town would have prevailed if the lawsuit had proceeded.

“We’re extremely pleased that the lawsuit has been abandoned by Mr. Waxman,” Ray said. “We think that it should never have been filed in the first place.”

Ray said there is always room for change and for debate when it comes to school rules. He said the School Committee was reviewing the honor code even before Waxman filed the lawsuit. As that review continues this year, students, parents, teachers and other residents will have additional opportunities to voice their opinions, Ray said.

The lawsuit, filed April 5 in U.S. District Court in Portland, claimed that school officials, acting in accordance with the honor code, violated the civil rights of the student-athlete.

In court documents, the girl said she was summoned from a math class to the office of the assistant principal, Amy Bongard. The girl said Bongard showed her a copy of the photograph in which she was holding beer and told her that she had violated the honor code.

Yarmouth High’s extracurricular honor code is a four-page document that students must sign to participate in sports or other activities. Students pledge not to use alcohol or tobacco, haze others or take part in anything that might embarrass the school during the school year – on or off school property, in or out of their activity’s season.

“I felt scared and intimidated by the situation and by Ms. Bongard. I did not believe that I had the right to just get up and leave,” the girl said in an affidavit. “I started to cry and asked Ms. Bongard if I could call my mom. She told me that I was not allowed to call my mother until after I had spoken with her, and also spoken with Yarmouth High School’s substance abuse counselor Jill Frame.”

The girl was suspended from lacrosse for three weeks and ordered to have six sessions of substance abuse counseling.

Waxman sought a temporary injunction from the court, which would have stopped the school from forcing the girl to attend the counseling. But at a hearing April 13, Judge D. Brock Hornby rejected the request, saying it was unlikely that Waxman would prevail at a trial.

On Wednesday, Waxman said the student has “really had enough of being in the spotlight, enough of large numbers of people making all kinds of off-base, negative comments about her and her motivations.”


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