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Parents File Suit After Students Ousted In Condom-Tossing Incident

June 3, 1988

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ A 15-year-old student was suspended for tossing condoms into a junior high school talent-show audience, saying he wanted to encourage safe sex.

The parents of James A. Dowdy have filed a lawsuit seeking their son’s reinstatement.

John H. Bothwell III, attorney for Cindy and Andy Jablonsky, filed the suit Wednesday. He said he reached a tentative agreement later that day with Hillsborough County School Board attorney W. Crosby Few to drop the suit if school officials provide Dowdy with study materials and set up an appointment with the parents.

The parents are seeking a court order to end the suspension imposed last month in favor of some other punishment, contending that James might have to repeat ninth grade if he is not allowed to return to Adams Junior High School to prepare for final exams.

If the suspension stands and James fails ninth grade, he would be ″irreparably harmed″ and would experience trauma, embarrassment, anguish and stigma, the lawsuit said.

James and three other Adams students, Josh Banks, 13, James Noble, 14, and Gabe Freedman, 15, were suspended after they distributed the condoms at the end of a May 17 talent show in the school cafeteria.

The boys said they wanted to encourage safe sex.

The suspensions began May 20 and are to continue until Monday.

The Jablonskys contend that they have tried without success to persuade school officials to impose sanctions other than removing their son from school at a ″critical time.″

Andy Jablonsky, James’ stepfather, attended a May 24 School Board meeting and said Principal Ken Adum incorrectly told the board the students had been warned not to disrupt the show.

Bothwell said James was not among the students who received the admonishment.

A copy of a May 20 letter from school officials to the Jablonskys was attached to the suit.

The letter lists ″distribution of condoms to students″ and ″disruption of a school function with a vulgar and obscene act″ as reasons for the suspension.

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