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Running head: PORTFOLIO #4: STUDENTS RIGHTS

Portfolio #4: Students Rights and Responsibilities


Danielle Pertile
EDU210
10/24/2015
Dr. Ce Isbell

PORTFOLIO #4: STUDENTS RIGHTS


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Introduction
Bill Foster was recently suspended for wearing an earring to school. The suspension
stems from the fact that the school had enacted a policy banning wearing any potentially gangrelated symbols such as jewelry, athletic caps or emblems. This school had been having issues
with gang activity, thus the reason for the ban and Fosters suspension. This school is located in
the northeastern United States, which tends to view dress as expressive and therefore protected
under First Amendment rights.
Fosters Side
Foster would argue that wearing an earring is a form of expression, and this expression
was not disruptive to the school or to any students. In the case of Doe v. Brockton School Comm.
(2000) a biologically male transgender student was disciplined for wearing female clothing to
school. The court ruled that the school could not deny this student their freedom of expression of
it was not causing a disruption within the school. Fosters earring would not cause a disruption at
the school, and this should be considered protected under the First Amendment.
Foster could also argue that the newly imposed dress code did not show a rational
relationship between gang activity and the items banned from being worn to school. In the case
of Stephenson v. Davenport (1997) a student was briefly suspended because she wore a tattoo
that a counselor mistook for a gang symbol. The student won her case because the court could
find no relation between the tattoo and gang activity. Likewise, Foster could show that his
earring does not coincide with gang activity, and that the dress code violates his right to freedom
of expression.
The School Districts Side

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The school would argue that they had implemented a policy of prior restraint, and had
developed the dress code policy prior to Foster wearing an earring at school. In the case of West
v. Derby Unified School Dist. (2000), the school rightfully suspended a student for drawing a
Confederate flag during class. The school had adopted a racial discrimination and harassment
policy of which the student was in violation. Foster is also in violation of a school regulation.
The school could also argue that his earring is in fact disruptive or offensive. In the case
of Boroff v. Van Wert City Board of Education (2000), the court allowed the disciplinary action
against a student who wore an offensive and anti-religious t-shirt to school. As in this case, the
school district has already implemented a dress code under which jewelry was banned due to
possible gang affiliation. The school would argue that it is within their rights to prohibit
offensive clothing and jewelry to protect the student body from harm, offense or disruption.
Final Decision
The court would side with Foster. As previously mentioned, Foster attends school in the
northeastern United States, which tends to side with the notion that student dress is expressive
and (somewhat) protected under the First Amendment. As in the cases of Stephenson v.
Davenport (1997) and Doe v. Brockton School Comm. (2000), the court would rule in favor or
Foster based on his freedom of expression. Furthermore, the school would not be able to prove a
connection between Fosters earring and gang activity, and Fosters freedom of expression would
ultimately be protected.

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REFERENCES
Boroff v. Van Wert City Board of Education (2000), Retrieved from Underwood, J., & Webb, D.
L. (2006). School law for teachers: Concepts and applications (p. 124). Columbus, OH:
Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.

Doe v. Brockton School Comm. (2000) Retrieved from Underwood, J., & Webb, D. L.
(2006). School law for teachers: Concepts and applications (p. 124). Columbus, OH:
Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.

Stephenson v. Davenport (1997), Retrieved from Underwood, J., & Webb, D. L.


(2006). School law for teachers: Concepts and applications (pp. 125). Columbus, OH:
Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.

West v. Derby Unified School Dist. (2000), Retrieved from Underwood, J., & Webb, D. L.
(2006). School law for teachers: Concepts and applications (p. 124). Columbus, OH:
Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.