A teacher at a Cape Henlopen School District elementary school -- who had at least one Muslim student in her class -- read a story at Christmas several years ago that said a candy cane was shaped like the letter "J" for Jesus and that the red in the peppermint-flavored symbol of the holiday stood for the blood that Christ shed on the cross.

When the Muslim student's mother complained, the district at first refused to apologize, according to court papers, then suspended the teacher with pay for two days but also allowed retaliation against the 8-year-old student. And it was only months later, in August 2004, after the family had moved out of the district, that officials formally reprimanded the teacher to settle an investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Late last week, U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson ruled the Muslim family presented enough evidence in their civil rights lawsuit against the district that it should be allowed to go forward to a trial and seek damages.

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