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Education Law
University of Connecticut School of Law
Mooney, Thomas B.

 
Thomas Mooney   Law & Public Education Outline           Spring 2015
 
Student Rights
1.      Conduct / Discipline
·         Common Law and the Student
o   Teachers have general control of students in school setting
o   Teachers have inherent authority to discipline students, but must protect and advance interest of the students
·         Reasonableness Standard
o   (1) The jurisdictional reach of the school’s authority beyond school grounds
o   (2)The nature and degree of discipline visited upon the student
·         In Loco Parentis
o   Literally means “in place of a parent”
o   In school the teacher takes on the role of “parent” but only in respect to authority and protecting the student’s interests
o   Lander v. Seaver- teacher’s power over a child is not coextensive with the parent
o   School officials act as agents of the government
Procedural Due Process Requirements:
·         (1) Must be given proper notice
·         (2) Must be given an opportunity to be heard
·         (3) The hearing must be conducted fairly
Substantive Due Process Requirements:
·         (1) Have you been deprived a liberty or property interest?
o   Liberty interest (loss of reputation)
o   Property interest (Public education)
·         (2) Does the gov’t have an adequate reason for taking away rights, and are the means specific to that objective?
o   Use appropriate level of scrutiny (Rational Basis, Intermediate, Strict Scrutiny)
·         Meyer v. Nebraska (1923)
o   Supreme Court held it was unconstitutional to forbid teaching of foreign languages in public or private schools
§  Extended Due Process right to education
§  Education is not a fundamental right in Constitution but a property interest
Wiemerslage v. Maine Township High School District 207 (p. 499)
·         Facts: Student was suspended for violating the school’s anti-loitering rule. Argued his constitutional rights were violated under the 1st and 14th Amendment being the term “loitering” was unconstitutionally vague
·         Issue: Whether the school district’s use of the term “loitering” was unconstitutionally vague and a violation of Due Process under 14th Amendment
·         Holding: Complaint was dismissed. A school district policy on “loitering” is not unconstitutionally vague or in violation of Due Process or the First Amendment
o   School concern was traffic and safety of student and property of neighbors
o   Court believed the rule was narrowly tailored to these two concerns
Dunn v. Fairfield Community High School District No. 225 (p. 505)
·         Facts: 2 students received an “F” in band after playing unauthorized guitar solos
·         Issue: Whether the school’s disciplinary action was unrelated to academic conduct and violated the students’ right to Due Process?
·         Holding: Giving students an “F” for violating schools rules does not violate substantive Due Process where action does not shock the conscience
o   Court looked at the school’s reason for discipline and did not believe the students were deprived a right by receiving an “F” for violating a school rule.
Corporal Punishment
·         Means “the infliction of bodily pain as penalty for bad behavior”
·         Common law courts have upheld teachers right to use physical punishment
o   Under circumstances where there is a specific constitutional violation, they must use that and not a Due Process claim (Ex: Freedom of speech instead of Due Process)
o   CT changed its assault statute to include that teachers cannot hit their students “just because” and only for specific reason like to remove the student or contraband
Ingraham v. Wright (p. 513)
·         Facts: Student was paddled in school by teacher
·         Holding: 8th Amendment clause against cruel and unusual punishment does not apply to corporal punishment of students in schools.
o   Court did not believe the paddling rose to level of constitutional concern
Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education (p. 518)
·         Facts: Students were expelled after conducting civil rights demonstrations during school
·         Issue: Whether students were required procedural Due Process before being expelled?
·         Holding: Procedural Due Process is required for student who are expelled with notice and an opportunity for a hearing.
o   Property interest: Expectation to education
o   Liberty Interest: Tarnishing of reputation from expulsion
Goss v. Lopez (p. 520)
·         Facts: Students were suspended for 10 days for misconduct without any process
·         Issue: What process is due?
·         Holding: Temporary suspension of students requires procedural Due Process
o   Can’t deprive students of their right to education without notice and hearing
South Gibson School Board v. Sollman (p. 528)
·         Facts: Student was expelled for possession of marijuana which violated the school’s zero-tolerance policy.
·         Issue: Whether the school’s decision for the student to lose all class credit for that semester was arbitrary and capricious and a violation of due process?
·         Holding: Not a violation of due process and not arbitrary or capricious because the action did not “shock the conscience.”
o   School has a legitimate interest in keeping illegal drugs out of school
 
2.      Free Speech / Press
Freedom of Speech – protect right by the First Amendment
Unprotected speech includes:
·         Disruption and breach of peace
·         Defamation
·         True threats of violence
·         Obscenity
Material and substantial disruption:
·         any speech that the school can reasonably foresee will cause a material disruption
o   Speech cannot be excluded based on mere discomfort and unpleasantness
School Speech Limitations:
·         Any speech that is lewd, vulgar, uncivil, or conveys sexual innuendos are not protected (Bethel v. Fraser).
·         Any speech that is a part of a school sponsored can be excluded for reasons that relate to a legitimate pedagogical concern (Hazlewood).
·         Any speech that ca

opensity to engage in violence.
Wisniewski v. Board of Ed. (p. 444)
·         Facts: Student was suspended for 5 days after displaying AIM Icon that said “Kill Mr. Vandermolen” who was his teacher.
·         Issue: Whether the student’s suspension for speech was a violation of First Amendment?
·         Holding: Although speech was off school grounds, it created a foreseeable risk to a material and substantial disruption under Tinker.
o   Many student was the message and could’ve cause disruption or even violence
 
3.      Search and Seizure
N.J v. T.L.O.
·         Facts: Student was suspected of smoking in girl’s bathroom. Principle searched her purse and found cigarettes, rolling papers, money and list of student customers.
·         Issue: Did the Principal have reasonable suspicion to search her purse?
·         Holding: Searches by school officials only require reasonable suspicion.
o   Search must be: (1) reasonable at its inception and (2) reasonable in its scope
Teacher Rights
1.      Constitutional Rights
Free Speech Rights of Teachers:
·         If speech is made pursuant to official duty, there is no First Amendment protection (Garcetti v. Ceballos)
·         If speech made is not on a matter of public concern, there is no First Amendment protection (Pickering / Connick v. Meyers)
·         If speech made IS on a matter of public concern, it is protected.
o   Court must balance the employee’s free speech interest against employer’s interest.
o   If employee’s interests win, and there was adverse action taken against employee, must ask whether same action would have taken place anyway, absent the protected speech.
Privacy Rights of Teachers:
·         The right to privacy is a fundamental right, HOWEVER, teachers have a lowered expectation of privacy in the school setting.
o   Court must balance the teacher’s privacy interest against the public interest (Knox / Daury)
 
Pickering v. Board of Ed. (p. 813)
·         Facts: Teacher wrote a letter to the local newspaper essentially attacking the how the school board handled the issue of raising taxes and fund allocation, and was subsequently fired.
·         Issue: Whether teacher’s rights were violated?
·         Holding: Teachers have a constitutional right to speak freely on matters of public concern.
o   Teacher’s speech was protected so long as it was not with falsity or a reckless disregard for the truth.