Student Rights and Discipline

The student rights and discipline page provides information regarding the challenges school districts face in balancing students' First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights with their educational mission to maintain a safe nondisruptive learning environment. Topics covered will include: due process, equal protection, search and seizure, freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, and privacy issues related to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Additional Resources

C.R. v. Eugene Sch. Dist.
Oregon federal district court holds school officials may regulate off-campus student speech under Tinker Standard.

J.A. v. Fort Wayne Community Schools
Indiana federal district court's denial of motion for permanent injunction allowing student to wear cancer awareness bracelet (I [heart] boobies) based on Fraser obscene, lewd, vulgar speech standard

NSBA Response to OCR's January 25, 2013 "Dear Colleague Letter" - Disabled Students Participation in Extracurricular Athletics
NSBA letter to OCR expressing its concern and request clarification on several points set forth in the Dear Colleague Letter issued on January 25, 2013 on the participation of students with disabilities in extracurricular sports.

I&A Section 504 January 2013

I&A March/April 2013 Section 504

Joint DHHS/ED Letter on Uniterrupted Scholars Act (USA) Amending FERPA
Joint letter issued by DHHS/ED to Chief State School Officers regarding USA amending FERPA.

Harassment, Bullying and Free Expression: Guidelines for Free and Safe Public Schools
Guidelines from a coalition of education and religious organizations, including NSBA, on balancing free speech and religious freedom rights while preventing bullying in public schools

Offcampus, Online Student Speech Cases Chart
8/19/2011 - Four federal circuits have ruled on school districts disciplining students for off-campus, on-line student speech. This chart summarizes the facts, holding, and legal standards applied in all the circuit and district court cases involving off-campus, on-line student speech.

State Educational Agency Model Anti-Bullying Policies and Other Resources
7/28/2011 Find model anti-bullying policies and other resources required by state anti-bullying laws in this chart.

State Anti-Bullying Statutes - Definitions
2/16/2012 - Newly updated chart compares the definition of "bullying" in state anti-bullying laws. Note that some laws include "harassment" and/or "intimidation" as part of the definition of "bullying," while others separate the concepts.

State Anti-Bullying Statutes - Table
4/17/2012 - Newly updated! This chart compares current state statutes addressing bullying, summarizing key provisions including definitions, off-campus reach, and requirements placed on state and local educational agencies.

Supplemental Materials on U.S.C.C.R. Briefing on Inter-Student Violence
May 2011 - These extensive materials, including an explanatory cover letter, provide a snap shot of the tireless work of state school boards associations and local districts to prevent and address bullying in schools.

NSBA's letter to the U.S. Department of Ed. on December 7, 2010
As you know, on October 26, 2010, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the United States Department of Education issued a "Dear Colleague" Letter to school districts advising of the Department's initiative on bullying in schools. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) shares the deep concern for maintaining the safety of all students and ensuring safe learning environments. However, NSBA's review of the "Dear Colleague" letter identified a number of concerns that we raised in a letter to the Department on December 7, 2010.

NSBA Amicus Brief - Butler v. Rio Rancho Public Schools (10th Cir.)
Student discipline: due process - zero tolerance policies, possession of drugs - scienter requirement.

NSBA Amicus Brief - C.N. v. Ridgewood Board of Education (3rd Cir.)
First Amendment: compelled speech – privacy – anonymous student survey on sensitive subjects.

NSBA Amicus Brief - Earls v. Tecumseh (U.S. Sup. Ct.)
Fourth Amendment: search and seizure - mandatory drug testing of studnets participating in extracurricular activities.

NSBA Amicus Brief - Frederick v. Morse (9th Cir.)
Student Rights: free speech - authority of school district to regulate expression inconsistent with its educational mission

NSBA Amicus Brief - Fuller v. Decatur Public School Board of Education (7th Cir.)
Due process, equal protection: zero tolerance policies - expulsion for fighting at school activitity - racial discrimination.

NSBA Amicus Brief - Gonzaga University v. Doe (U.S. Sup. Ct.)
FERPA: disclosure of student record - private right of action.

NSBA Amicus Brief - Harris v. School District of Palm Beach County (11th Cir.)
First Amendment: student expression - viewpoint discrimination based on religion - Establishment Clause concerns

NSBA Amicus Brief - M.A.L. v. Kinsland (6th Cir.)
First Amendment - student distribution of literature - time, place and manner regulations

NSBA Amicus Brief - Morse v. Frederick (U.S. Sup. Ct.) on the merits
First Amendment: student expression – classification of speech, i.e. Tinker, Fraser, or Kuhlmeier – qualified immunity.

NSBA Amicus Brief - Morse v. Frederick (U.S. Sup. support of Petition for Certiorari)
First Amendment: student expression – classification of speech, i.e. Tinker, Fraser, or Kuhlmeier – qualified immunity.

NSBA Amicus Brief - Newsom v. Albemarle County (4th Cir.)
First Amendment: student expression - t-shirt depicting weapon - viewpoint discrimination

NSBA Amicus Brief - Unified School District No. 259 v. Disability Rights Center of Kansas (10th Cir.)
FERPA: disclosure of student records to protection and advocacy groups.

NSBA Amicus Brief - Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton (U.S. Sup. Ct.)
Fourth Amendment: search and seizure - mandatory drug testing of student athletes.

NSBA Amicus Brief - West v. Derby Unified School District (10th Cir.)
First Amendment: student expression - school district policy prohibiting displaying the Confederate symbols and flags.

NSBA Amicus Brief - Nurre v. Whitehead (9th Cir.)
First Amendment: Student free speech—playing of instrumental music with religious theme at graduation—qualified immunity and personal liability of school administrators.

Safford Unified School Dist. #1 v. Redding (U.S. Sup. Ct.—Merits)
Fourth Amendment: strip searches for prescription drugs; qualified immunity. Filed 3/4/2009.

Dealing with Legal Matters Surrounding Students’ Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
This Fall 2004 publication by an NSBA-led coalition of organizations provides practical guidance on schools’ legal responsibilities with respect to issue of students' sexual orientation, including harassment and bullying, curriculum, and other school programs and policies.

From Reasonable Suspicion to Random Testing: How Do State Constitutions View Drug Testing?
After Earls and Vernonia, one remaining question regarding student drug and alcohol testing is whether state constitutions view testing as unconstitutional. This article summarizes how state court decisions regard this question.

Chart of decisions on distribution of religious and other materials from non-school entities
Compilation of federal court decisions regarding in-school distribution of religious materials and other materials from non-school entities, including Bibles, promotional materials for religious programs, anti-abortion literature, and Boy Scouts information.

Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO)
This office in the U.S. Department of Education is responsible for implementation of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), which protect the privacy of parents and students. These web pages include information on these statutes, their administering regulations, FPCO administrative guidance, model notifications, and additional resources.

Inquiry & Analysis, April 2010
In this issue: Student Drug Testing - Developments Since Earls, 2010 Defense Act Expands FMLA for Military Families, and more.

Jackson Public Schools - Restraint Policy
The State Department of Education and the Board of Trustees of the Jackson Public School District recognize that school safety staff may need to intercede in situations where students display physically violent behavior. District policy prohibits the use of excessive force, or cruel and unusual punishment, regarding student management and discipline.

Petition for Certiorari - Doe v. Todd County Sch. Dist.
Doe's petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme - student rights, special education - IDEA - due process

Herrera v. Santa Fe Public Schools
New Mexico federal district court issues TRO limiting searches at high school prom

Herrera v. SFPS
Candice Herrera's legal complaint in pat down suit

Herrera v. SFPS response to motion
SFPS' response in opposition to motion for TRO

B.H. v. EASD
EASD opening brief in appeal to Third Circuit, seeking to overturn preliminary injunction barring enforcement of policy banning wearing "I [heart] boobies" bracelets at school

Hotchkiss v. MCS
Complaint in civil rights suit involving strip search of student - Fourth Amendment, equal protection, due process, section 1981

Kowalski v. BCPS 2008
Motion to dismiss suit - granted in part and denied in part. Granted as to student's free speech claim and denied as students due process claim.

KK v. BCPS 2009
Motion for summary judgment. Granted in favor BCPS on student's due process claim

NSBA Position Statement to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Briefing on Inter-Student Violence
School boards are dedicated to providing a safe learning environment, and to preventing and eliminating bullying and harassment in public schools.

Kowalski v. BCS
Summary of district court rulings on motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgement

Student Transfers and Transfer Tuition
This pamphlet written in a question and answer format explains Indiana law of legal settlement, student transfers, and transfer tuition.

Sapp v. Alachua Cnty. Sch. Bd.
N.D. Fla grants ACSB motion for summary judgment as to students claims that 2009-10 and 2010-11 dress code policies vviolate their free speech rights.

Fell v. JCBOE
Kentucky Court of Appeals opinion striking down JCPS student assignment plan - 2011 opinion.

Electronic Privacy Information Center v. Dept of Ed
EPIC v. ED - legal complaint challenging FERPA regulations

Complaint in suit against GPS expulsion for Facebook posting

R.S. v. Minnewaska Area School District
Student stated valid claim for violation of First Amemndment free speech rights based school officials disciplining student for off-campus online Facebook postings that were neither true threats or substantially disruptive of school environment

Gilio v. School Bd. of Hillsborough Cnty.
Federal magistrate's recommendation that Florida district court grant student's motion for a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of board's materials distribution policy's prohibition distribution of religious materials unless such materials are materially disruptive of school operations

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