Goss vs. Lopez – Law Essay
Removing students from school without a hearing is always a last resort. Although this may be the case now, just a few years back it was not. On October 16, 1974, the Supreme Court argued a case that would change
the methods of suspension and expulsion forever.
“In 1971 widespread student unrest took place in the Columbus, Ohio public schools. Students who either participated in, or were present at, demonstrations held on school grounds were suspended. Many suspensions were for a period of 10 days. Students were not given a hearing before suspension, although later some students and their parents were given informal conferences with the school principal. Ohio law provides free education to all children between the ages of 6 and 21. A number of students, through their parents, sued the board of education, claiming that their right to due process had been violated when they were suspended without a hearing.” On October 16, 1974, the case of Goss v. Lopez began its proceedings. The case was an appeal from the United States District Court of the Southern District of Ohio. In this case, nine students from two high schools and one junior high school were suspended from their schools for misconduct. The administrative personnel from these schools did not hold hearings with the students or their parents prior to taking action. This violates the students’ right to the fourteenth amendment by denying them due process. In addition, the Ohio laws at this time did not require them to hold hearings before suspending or expelling public schools students.
The Ohio public schools students argued that by Ohio school “having chosen to extend the right to an education to people of the appellees’ class generally, Ohio may not withdraw that right on the grounds of misconduct.” Moreover, with this being said the students wanted the school officials to realize not only were they punishing them in their high school careers but more so punishing the students in their later educational plans and employment opportunities. The main arguing point of the case was did the suspensions without a hearing violate the students’ fourteenth amendment right to due process? “The Court recognized the complexity of schools and the difficult task of school administrators but held that, although there may well be flexibility in what constitutes a hearing, “The fundamental requisite of due process of law is the opportunity to be heard…. The total exclusion from the educational process for more than a trivial period, and certainly if the suspension is for 10 days, is a serious event in the life of the suspended child.” The Court also iterated that the due process clause does not shield the child from properly imposed suspension and that the timing and nature of the hearing may well be determined by the specific circumstances of each case to assure the safety and rights of all. The Court suggested that punitive measures beyond a 10-day period may well call for more formal hearings, but nonetheless, a suspension for up to 10 days must include the rudiments of procedural due process.” ( Permuth 32-33) The court found that with a five to four decision that the students’ rights had been violated. Mr. Justice White delivered the opinion of the court stating that the students’ rights of due process given in the fourteenth amendment had been violated. The administrators and school officials were instructed to remove all referencing of these temporary suspensions from the students records.
Along with the students’ record clearing the precedent for future cases was set in place. The precedent states that the principal may suspend a student for misconduct for up to ten days or expel. Whether he does either one, he must notify the pupil’s parents within twenty- four hours and provide the reasoning for his decision to suspend of expel the student.