2 Tinker v Des Moines Topic Students’ First Amendment rights Supreme Court DecisionIn a 7 to 2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court determined the students wearing of the armbands as a silent expression was protected by the First Amendment. The school failed to demonstrate that the actions of the students would interfere with appropriate school discipline.Educational Significance• Students rights are protected under the First Amendment in as much as they do not disrupt the learning environment.• School administrators have the burden of proving that a particular demonstration of expression will be significantly disruptive.• Merely a desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness of an unpopular view is not enough to justify the prohibition of the expression.• When making determinations on disciplinary policy that may bring into question a students First Amendment rights, other cases should be noted as examples (i.e. Bethel School District v. Fraser, Morse v. Frederick, and Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier)
3 Bethel School Dist v Fraser TopicThe issue involved is whether or not students can say whatever they please with regard to the First Amendment during a public school forum.RulingOn additional appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court found that while public students have the right to advocate unpopular and controversial issues in school, that right must be balanced against the schools' interest in teaching socially appropriate behavior.A public school may legitimately establish standards of civil and mature conduct. The Court observed that such standards would be difficult to convey in a school that tolerated lewd, indecent and offensive speech and conduct that the student in this case exhibited. In conclusion, the school district's decision was upheld.Educational SignificanceSchool officials may restrict freedom of expression where there is evidence of material and substantial disruption, indecent or offensive speech, violation of school rules, destruction of school property, or disregard for authority. In each case, students must be provided minimal due process before any punitive action is taken.Buttons, pamphlets, and other insignia may be banned if the message communicated is vulgar or obscene or mock others based on race, origin, color, sex, or religion.
4 New Jersey v TLO Topic Unwarranted searches ad seizure of property RulingThe supreme court of New Jersey reversed the appellate division’s ruling and ordered the evidence found in T.L.O’s purse suppressed.The court proceeded to hold that whenever an “official search violates constitutional rights the evidence may not be used in a criminal case; they deemed the Choplick’s search was not reasonable. The mere possession of the cigarettes was not a violation of school rules; therefore a desire for evidence of smoking did not justify the search.Educational SignificanceBe extremely cautious when accusing or searching studentsBe aware of all rules and the fine print.Document all actions when dealing with behavior incidentsMake sure there is reasonable suspicion to do the search and seizure initially
5 Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier Topic The high school principal prevented the school publication of Spectrum that profiled three pregnant students and quoted other students on reasons for their parents’ divorce. The principal was afraid that the identity of the three students would be revealed, sexual activity content was too graphic for younger students, and parents of students were not able to respond to comments made by students.RulingSupreme Court reversed the ruling that the principal did not violate students free speech rights by ordering certain material removed from an issue of the student newspaper. Students’ First Amendment rights are not the same as those of adults due to the special characteristics of the school environment.Educational SignificanceThe Hazelwood ruling has important implications for student newspapers that are part of the school’s curriculum in that restrictions may be placed on them based on reasonable grounds. Administrators may exercise greater authority in monitoring student press but care should be taken not to violate the student rights in the process. This may exercise content-based control over student expression and use of restricting student speech. Some states have passed laws guaranteeing that non-forum newspapers, such as the Hazelwood East High School newspaper, are guaranteed the rights that the First Amendment describes.
6 Goss v LopezTopicDue process; Hearing or notice; Procedure when suspending a student for up to ten days.RulingThe state law was found unconstitutional both by the federal district court and again by the Supreme Court. The case determined that students facing suspensions of up to ten days or less were entitled to:1. oral or written notice of charges2. an explanation of evidence to be used against them, and3. an opportunity to present their side of the issueEducational SignificanceDue process is a right of everyone according to the U.S. ConstitutionEvery student must be given notice (oral or written) of the misconduct, an explanation of the evidence, and an opportunity for a hearing.Ensure every situation is handled carefully and the due process is adhered to.Ensure school policies align with state and federal law.Note that suspensions of more than 10 days require more formal procedures.
7 Lee v WisemanTopicInclusion of clergy to offer prayer as part of public school ceremoniesRulingThe U.S. Supreme Court held that "Including clergy who offer prayers as part of an official public school graduation ceremony is forbidden by the Establishment Clause.Prayer exercises in elementary and secondary schools carry a particular risk of indirect coercion. The school district's supervision and control of a high school graduation ceremony places subtle and indirect public and peer pressure on attending students to stand as a group or maintain respectful silence during the invocation and benediction...The petitioners' argument that the option of not attending the ceremony excuses any inducement or coercion in the ceremony itself is rejected. In this society, high school graduation is one of life's most significant occasions, and a student is not free to absent herself from the exercise in any real sense of the term 'voluntary'..."The United States Supreme Court affirmed the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit judgment.Educational SignificanceThis case clarifies that clergy may not lead the student body in prayer at a school-sponsored event. If administrators are approached about having clergy members offer a prayer at a school-sponsored event, suggest that they meet before the event to allow interested members to participate so that no one is excluded in their right to convene, and in protecting those that might be opposed, such allowance would protect them in their right to be free from what may be interpreted as coercion by this group.
9 Stevens v Chesteen Topic Does a brief absence from class constitute breach of duty of reasonable supervision.RulingThe court ruled in favor of Chesteen noting that his absence in this situation does not breach his duty of reasonable supervision. Teenagers like Stevens often participate in “pick-up” football games that are completely unsupervised. This case involved a “touch” football game, and not a tackle game, thus making violent collisions involving bystanders unlikely.Education significanceIt is important for all teachers to properly supervise student to the best of their ability. If a child is restricted from participating in physical education class that student must be well away from any activity that could cause injury to them. Necessary precautions for this situation should be in writing and included in the class syllabus to avoid any legal troubles. One possible solution is moving injured student to the library to finish a written assignment about nutrition or exercise as a possible alternative while their injury heals.