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Student’s Rights: Freedom of Speech


The students’ body forms an integral part of any academic institution. As any group of people operating in a group, having in place rules that guide their individual and group, behavior forms an important basis of their management. Like all other human beings, they would wish to express themselves differently each one of them taking his or her views. Therefore, the government of the US has taken into consideration these factors among others in deciding how institutions should handle students. Some students’ acts grossly contravene both institutional and state laws. Institutional laws depend on the guidelines of student’s constitution while state laws outline individual’s different forms of freedoms.

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Freedom of speech

In United States, the constitution recognizes student’s rights in various capacities (Hinchey 1). This begins from the constitution that never fails in recognizing the rights of students (Bosher, Kaminski & Vacca 103). Therefore, the court systems consider student’s rights violation as a very serious offence. This arises from the assumption that the school should act in the capacity of a parent to the students while they are in their custody. However, the school administration has the capacity to make decisions, which are outside ordinary government purview (Dodd 4). This in most cases occurs if the actions of the administration are for the best interest of the school aimed at promoting education.

Students have a constitutional right with regard to freedom of expression. In both High school and colleges, students’ freedom of expression depends on the normal education processes governed by the administration. Therefore, students who defy the school administration by acting contrary to their normal expectations call for disciplinary action. However, the school administration may choose to silently deal with the problem caused by the student without publicly embarrassing the student (Alexander & Kern 387).

In this case, Paul’s act of posting fliers that were defamatory to the principle was a violation of students’ constitutional rights. Therefore, the constitution had legal capacity to prevent him from posting the fliers (Mount 4). In addition, the school had the capacity to censor Paul’s publications since it was not promoting the views of the students. In addition, using defamatory words on the principal was against the state constitution since the principal is a representative of the school.


Hazelwood School versus Kuhmeier

According to this case, Paul contravened the school code of conduct and grossly abused the student ‘s constitution. While the institution had the capacity to deter his articles, the fact that he went against the school normal practices under the auspices of the administration called disciplinary action. This scenario indicated misuse of students’ rights as it stretched the limits for freedom of expression notwithstanding. (Mount 2).

b). In yet another similar incidence, a student in California Polytechnic States University pledged guilty of posting fliers in a public area considered unlawful by the institution’s bi-laws. Like in the previous case, the university had moral and legal capacity to ask the student to stop such behavior without violating the students’ rights. However, following the students’ anger by the act the administration allowed legal justice system to determine the fate of the student (Halvorssen 1).

Students dressing

The US constitution has a law that promotes student’s freedom of expression with regard to mode of dressing. Such laws provide the guidelines to the dress codes adopted by all states institutions. In particular, high schools and colleges dress code, borrow heavily from these laws as they offer the necessary checks on the students’ freedom of expression. This means that rules applied by the school administration dependent on the impact of the student’s action on the learning process (Bosher, Kaminski & Vacca 104).

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Recalling the previous case, the school had a legal capacity to ask Paul to cease from his mode of dressing and hair style without violating his constitutional right. This arises from the fact that his mode of dressing expressed certain views that the school do not subscribe to during its establishment. In addition, his gang-dressing mode had the capacity of interfering with the learning process as it distracted most of the students’ attentions. The US federal government can deny an individual education rights in public institutions if their hairstyle does not conform to the standards set by the school via its board (US Supreme Court Centre para. 1). In addition, wearing a tee shirt with marijuana drawn on it while in school could easily drug abuse while in school. Therefore, the school administration did not violate Paul’s constitutional rights by asking him to cease from his mode of dressing and hairstyle. Instead, they suppressed the undesirable act and encouraged him to change.


New Rider versus Board

In this case, two students received suspension letters from a school administration for wearing long hair, which depicted their tradition. According the school codes of conduct, their mode of dressing violated school rules. Previously, the school had officially introduced rules that made it illegal to put on hair beyond a student’s collar. Based its findings, the court ruled that the students’ hairstyle was not as it was desired. Their hairstyle intended to communicate their pride of being Indians (Mount 5).

Morse versus Fredrick

In this case, the court ruled that school administration have the capacity to suppress student’s freedom of expression on detecting it promotes illegal activities –specifically drug use. On this note, One Joseph Fredrick had erected a flier promoting drug use on the route through which Olympic torch passed and flanked by other students. Then the administration sought to respond. The school principal citing that the banner contravened the school’s policies and themes with regard to countering drug abuse suspended Fredrick. The court ruled that the message communicated by the banner and its interpretation informed the ruling. The court further ruled that student’s actions aimed to promote or celebrate use of drugs at school in the presence of other students and school administrators are illegal. In addition, it posses a challenge to the school administration which is charged with the responsibility of taking care of students and ensuring that they are free from dangers related to drug abuse.


Therefore, Paul’s action of wearing a tee shirt with marijuana drawn on it had the capacity of promoting drug abuse amongst the students. Ultimately, the principal did not violate Paul’s constitutional rights by asking him to cease from his mode of dressing and hairstyle.

Works Cited

Alexander, David and Kern, Alexander. American public school law. New Jersey: Cengage Learning.2005. Print.

Bosher, William, Kaminski, Kate and Vacca, Richard. The school law handbook: what every leader needs to know. San Antonio: ASCD. 2004. Print.

Dodd, Victoria. Practical educational law for the 21st century. Carolina: Carolina Academic Press. 2008. Print.

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Hinchey, Patricia. Student rights: a reference handbook. Oxford: ABC-CLIO. 2001. Print.

Mount, Steve. Constitutional topic: student rights. New York: Steve Mount Incorporation 2010. Web.

US Supreme Court Centre. Olff v. East Side Union High School District: 404 US 1042(1972). New York: Justia. 2010. Web.

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