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Educational Law
Case Analysis Outline


CASE: Board of Regents v Roth 408 U.S. 564, 92 S. Ct. 2701, 33 L. Ed. 2d 548, 1972 U.S.

COURT: Argued in the Supreme Court of the United States on January 18, 1972 and decided June 29, 1972.

PETITIONER: Board of Regents of State Colleges

RESPONDENT: David Roth

BACKGROUND FACTS: Roth was hired as a first year assistant professor in the political science department
at Wisconsin State University in 1968. Roths contract was for a fixed term of one year with the possibility of
extending the contract. At the end of his contract year, Roth was informed by the president of the University
that his contract would not be renewed, citing no reason for the decision or offering an opportunity to challenge
the decision in any forum. Under the Board of Regents policy, employees were given the opportunity for
review if dismissed before the end of their employment term; however this protection was not given to
employees who were not contractually renewed. Roth sued based on infringement of his First Amendment
rights, stating his contract was terminated based on critical statements he made against the university
administration, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, alleging his right to due process had also been violated.

PETITIONERS CLAIM: The Board of Regents of State Colleges stated the University president followed
the policy set forth for nontenure track professionals, did not violate Roths First or Fourteenth Amendment
rights, and did not owe explanation for nonrenewal or opportunity for a hearing.

RESPONDENTS CLAIM: Roth claimed the University violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights
when his nontenured contract was not renewed. Though rated as an excellent teacher by the faculty, Roth
claims it was his criticism of university administration that led to his nonrenewal.

REMEDY SOUGHT BY PETITIONER: The Board of Regents did not want to provide formal reasons for
nonrenewal, provide a hearing for Roth, or extend Roths contract.

APPEAL PROCESS: The case was originally heard by the Seventh Circuit Court and was ruled in the
Respondents favor; the District Court granted summary judgment for the University officials to provide Roth
with reasons for dismissal and a hearing (310 F.Supp. 972). The Court of Appeals affirmed partial summary
(446 F.2d 806). The Supreme Court then only heard the question of the Fourteenth Amendment and ruled the
University did not violate due process.

DECISION OF THE COURT: (5-3 vote) The Supreme Court denied Roth had his Fourteenth Amendment
rights violated, stating there need not be an opportunity for a hearing prior to nonrenewal of an employees
nontenured contract. The Court did not address the First Amendment rights issue. Judgment for the Petitioner.

IMPLICATIONS FOR EDUCATORS: The idea of right to work is recognized and protected by the Fifth
and Fourteenth Amendments; however the status of government employment is still undecided and uncertain.
Educators must be aware of the tenuous employment relationship between public school districts and public
school teachers. The Roth ruling could have implications and change the due process rights of public school
teachers and/or grant more flexibility to public school districts in their hiring processes. These changes could
dramatically affect academic freedom for public school teachers.