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Portfolio#4 Students Rights and Responsibilities 1

Josebe Dominguez

EDU 210

Portfolio#4. Student Rights and Responsibilities

November 23, 2013


2 PORTFOLIO#4 STUDENTS RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Portfolio#4. Students Rights and Responsibilities

Due to the gang activities that were prevalent in a large high school in the

northeastern United States, the school initiated a policy prohibiting the wearing of gang

symbols such as jewelry, emblems, earrings, and athletic caps. Bill Foster, a student of that

high school, wore an earring to school. He was not involved in the gang activity; he only

thought that wearing earring was attractive to girls. He was suspended from school, and

then, he sued the school.

One court case that supports the side of the school is Bethel v. Fraser. In this case,

the high school student Matthew Fraser approached the podium at the front of his public

schools auditorium. Matthew was a little nervous. He felt nervous because hed shown the

speech to two teachers at his school, and they both told him the speech was inappropriate.

One of his teachers even warned him he might get into severe trouble for reading it. He

decided to read it anyway. After the speech, Matthew was told he had violated the schools

conduct code. He was suspended for two days, and was told he would not be allowed to

speak at the schools graduate ceremony.

In the scenario I have in the first paragraph, Bill sued the school probably because

he thought that his freedom of speech and expression was violated. The same happened in

the case of Bethel v. Fraser. Fraser believed that he had a First Amendment right to give his

speech, but the school argued that Matthews speech had clearly violated the school

conduct code, and that the First Amendment did not protect Matthews words in public

school. In the scenario presented in the first paragraph, Bill could claim that the policy

against the wearing of earrings in the school violates students first amendment rights. He
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also could say that unless all students including females are suspended for merely wearing

an earring then suspending him appears to be harsh and gender bias. In the case of Bethel v.

Fraser the Supreme Court ruled had not violated Matthews First Amendment, and that

schools do not have to tolerate certain behaviors. This decision supports the school side.

Another case that supports the side of the school is Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier case.

Here, Students produced a school newspaper as part of their journalism class. One issue

was to include articles about teen pregnancy and the impact of divorce on kids. The

principal objected to the stories, believing they were inappropriate for the younger students

and unfair to the pregnant students who might be identified from the text of the article. He

also believed that the parents of the students quoted in the divorce article should have been

given an opportunity to respond. He deleted the articles from the school newspaper. Three

students sued, claiming a violation of their First Amendment rights under the Tinker

standard. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the principal has the right to censor

articles in the student newspaper that were deemed contrary to the schools educational

mission. The decision of this case supports the side of school in Bills case because here the

Court said that schools could censor any forms of expression deemed ungrammatical,

poorly written, inadequately researched, biased or prejudiced, vulgar or profane, or

unsuitable for immature audiences, or any expression that advocates conduct otherwise

inconsistent with the shared values of the civilized social order. Based on that decision, if

the school can prove that Bills earrings support the gang activities that were prevalent in

the school, the Court will probably rule in favor of the school.

When it comes to support the side of Bill (the student in the first paragraph), one

important case is Tinker v. Des Moines. Tinker, his sister Mary Beth, and a friend were

sent home from school for wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. The school
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had established a policy permitting students to wear several political symbols, but had

excluded the wearing of armbands protesting the Vietnam War. The Court found that the

school had not demonstrated that the armbands caused a material and substantial

interference with schoolwork. The Court noted that the school district had not banned all

political symbols, but had instead prohibited. This decision supports the side of Bill

because if he could prove that his earrings or clothes do not affect or interfere his

schoolwork, then the school would be violating the First Amendment.

Another case that supports the side of Bill is Chandler v. McMinnville School Dist.,

978 F.2d 524 (9th Cir. 1992). A group of teachers in Oregon went on a lawful strike. The

school district hired replacement teachers. Two students, whose fathers were striking

teachers, wore buttons with the word scab on them. The students distributed similar

buttons to their classmates. School officials prohibited the students from wearing the

buttons. The students sued, claiming a First Amendment violation. The lower court sided

with the school district. The students then appealed. The Ninth Circuit panel held that the

students wearing of the buttons could not be prohibited unless the school district could

show a reasonable forecast of substantial disruption. The decision of this case supports the

side of Bill (the student in the first paragraph) because student speech is divided into three

basic categories: first, vulgar and plainly offensive speech; second, school-sponsored

speech; and third, speech that falls into neither of the first two categories. The buttons in

this case were not vulgar and they were not school-sponsored. The same happens in the

scenario we have in the first paragraph. Bill was wearing earrings because he thought that it

was attractive for girls. In that case, he was not related with any gang activity. To find Bill

guilty, the school has to demonstrate that the earrings would cause a substantial disruption

of school activities
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I do not think the suspension of Bill (the student in the first paragraph) is justified. I

believe that this action is severe and should have been at most a dress code violation with

the student receiving detention. The policy does not specifically mandate suspension. I

understand that the school has a responsibility to create a safe environment but the policy

should not violate students rights. Bill should be able to wear his earring since the policy

refers to gang symbols not just earrings. The courts will probably state that students do not

shed their constitutional rights at the school doors.


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References

Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser. (1999). In Great American Court Cases, Gale.
Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.csn.edu/login?qurl=http%3A%2F
%2Fwww.credoreference.com/entry/greatcourts/bethel_school_district_no_403_v_frase

Chandler v. McMinniville Schl. Dist. (1992). In Court Cases. Retrieved from


http://journalism.uoregon.edu/~tgleason/j385/Chandler_j385.html

Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. (1999). In Great American Court Cases, Gale.
Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.csn.edu/login?qurl=http%3A%2F
%2Fwww.credoreference.com/entry/greatcourts/hazelwood_school_district_v_kuhlmeie

Tinker v. Des Moines. (2011). In Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and
Military History. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.csn.edu/login?qurl=http%3A%2F
%2Fwww.credoreference.com/entry/abcvw/tinker_v_des_moines