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Education 210 Portfolio Artifact #4

Education 210 Portfolio Artifact #4


Students Rights and Responsibilities
Jaime Hoonsan
The College of Southern Nevada

Education 210 Portfolio Artifact #4


Scenario:
A highly populated high school in the northeastern United States instituted new
guidelines banning wearing gang symbols such as jewelry, emblems, earrings and athletic caps.
Bill Foster, who was not involved in a gang, decided to wear an earring to school in an effort to
express himself through fashion. Foster thought that young ladies would find the earring
enticing. Although Foster was not involved in gang activities, he was suspended for wearing the
earring. Foster filed suit. Were Bill Fosters freedom of expression rights violated in this case?
Why or why not?

Pro-Support:
Tinker v. Des Moines School District 393 U.S. 503 (1969) demonstrated that under the
first amendment, a student has the right to practice freedom of expression via clothing or
accessories. In this case, a group of students planned on protesting the Vietnam War by wearing
black arm bands on the outside of their clothing. The faculty and even some students attempted
to block the planned student protest via making threats of physical harm and suspension of the
group if students wore the arm bands. Several students backed down from their plans, but a few
wore the bands anyway, and were suspended from school. They filed suit and won their case
when the courts said that the suspensions were unconstitutional because students do not lose the
right to free speech at the door when they enter a school. The school needed to show more than
just a fear of the harsh realities that surrounded their point of view of the war. This case is similar
to the Bill Foster Case because Bill was suspended while trying to practice his first amendment
right to freedom of expression through fashion in the same way that the students in the Tinker
case were. This indicates that Bill Foster does indeed have a case.

Education 210 Portfolio Artifact #4


Mahaffey v. Aldrich, 236 F. Supp.2d 779 (E.D. Mich.2002) has demonstrated that a
student has the right to free speech under the first amendment. In this case, Joshua Mahaffey
created a website, possibly on school computers, that was considered vile and threatening by
many of the staff administrators of his school. The administration of the school suspended
Mahaffey and began the process to expel him. Mahaffeys parents withdrew him from the school,
enrolled him elsewhere and filed a suit claiming his due process rights were violated. The courts
agreed with Mahaffey and he won his case. This case is similar to the Bill Foster case because
the school violated Fosters first amendment rights by suspending him in much the same way
that Mahaffeys rights were violated when he was suspended. This indicates that Bill Foster does
have a case.

Con-Support:
According to Bethel School District. No. 403 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986) a school
may restrict a students perverse speech, even if there is no disruption that occurs as a result of
the speech. This case involved Matthew Fraser, who gave a nomination speech for a friend. The
speech was full of sexually charged innuendo. Matthew was suspended for 2 days for his speech,
and filed suit. The courts upheld the suspension stating that the school board has the authority to
prohibit speech and conduct such as that displayed by Fraser. This case is similar to the Bill
Foster case in that a student was attempting to make a statement via their first amendment rights,
but in both cases, the students were suspended from school. Through the verdict in Bethel School
District v. Fraser, the courts show us that Bill Fosters rights were not violated, because the
school has the right to restrict disruptive speech and conduct and he does not have a case.

Education 210 Portfolio Artifact #4


According to Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier 484 U.S. 261 (1988), a school
may censor students first amendment right of free speech for the purposes of school activities, if
the speech is related to justifiable concerns. This case involved the student newspaper of
Hazelwood East High School. The principal objected to 2 of the stories that the journalism class
wished to run as part of the May issue of the paper. One story involved teen pregnancy, sexual
activity and birth control. The other involved the story of a student whose parents were divorced.
After speaking with his boss, the principal opted to run only 4 of the original 6 pages the
journalism class had submitted to him for publication. The editor of the paper filed suit. The
Supreme Court overturned the decision of the circuit court stating that school officials never
meant for the school paper to become a public forum and that the paper could be regulated by
school administrators who wished to continue to use the forum as an educational lesson for
students in journalism. This case is similar to the Bill Foster case because a school attempted to
put perimeters on a students first amendment rights. According to the ruling of The Supreme
Court, Bill Fosters first amendment rights were not violated because a school has the power to
censor free speech rights for the purposes of school activities.
Final Paragraph:
Bill Foster decided to wear an earring to school, despite a recently adopted school policy
which forbade it. The policy was enforced and Bill was suspended from school for his
disobedience. Based on the court cases Bethel School District. No. 403 v. Fraser and Hazelwood
School District v. Kuhlmeier, Bill Fosters rights were not violated because the school has the
right to restrict Fosters first amendment rights for purposes of school activities, possible
disruption of the educational setting and justifiable concerns over safety. Fosters reasoning that
the ladies would find the earring enticing is unsound.

Education 210 Portfolio Artifact #4

References:
Find Law (1969, February 24). Retrieved from Find Law for Legal Professionals:
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=393&invol=503

Leagle, Inc (2002, November 26). Retrieved from Leagle.net:


http://www.leagle.com/decision/20021015236FSupp2d779_1951.xml/MAHAFFEY%20
EX%20REL.%20MAHAFFEY%20v.%20ALDRICH

Find Law (1986, July 7). Retrieved from Find Law for Legal Professionals:
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=478&invol=675

Find Law (1988, January 13). Retrieved from Find Law for Legal Professionals:
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=484&invol=260

Education 210 Portfolio Artifact #4