Landmark School Cases
Terminal Objective
Upon completion of this module, the
participant will be able to identify and
understand the landmark United States
Supreme Court cases involving schools and
Enabling Objectives
 Identify and understand the following United
States Supreme Court Cases:
 Engel v. Vitale (1962)
 Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School
District (1969)
 Goss v. Lopez (1975)
 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1983)
 New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985)
 Bethel School District # 43 v. Fraser (1987)
 Santa Fe Ind. Sch. Dist. v. Doe (2000)
 Board of Education v. Earls (2002)
 Zelma v. Simmons-Harris (2002)
In CLEB (Basic), you received a
comprehensive review of the most common
legal issues that school based law
enforcement encounter.
Today we’ll review some landmark Supreme
Court cases involving schools and students
that you may or may not have heard of
Engel v. Vitale (1962)
In the New York system, each day began
with a nondenominational prayer:
Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence
upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us,
our parents, our teachers and our country.
From what you remember from Campus
Law Enforcement (Basic), why might
someone bring suit over this action?
Establishment Clause
A group of several families brought suit, saying
that the prayer violated the Establishment
Clause of the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court agreed and ruled that
government-written prayers are not to be
recited in public schools and were an
unconstitutional violation of the Establishment
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent
Community School District (1969)
In December 1965, John Tinker (15), Mary
Beth Tinker (13) and their friend Christopher
Eckhardt (16) decided to wear black
armbands to school in protest of the Vietnam
Mary and John Tinker
Tinker v. Des Moines
Following the students’ suspension, the
parents filed suit.
The Supreme Court held that the First
Amendment applied to public schools, and
that administrators would have to
demonstrate constitutionally valid reasons
for any specific regulation of speech in the
Famous Quote from Tinker
"It can hardly be argued that either students
or teachers shed their constitutional rights to
freedom of speech or expression at the
schoolhouse gate."
Goss v. Lopez (1975)
Nine students were suspended for 10 days
for destroying school property and disrupting
the learning environment.
Ohio law allowed the principal to suspend a
student for 10 days, but required that the
student and parents be notified of the action
24 hours before and be given a reason.
Goss v. Lopez
If the student was expelled, he could appeal
to the Board of Education – but there was no
such mechanism for suspended students.
The Supreme Court held that the state
violated the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of
due process by removing the hearing
process for suspensions.
Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1983)
A high school paper was published as part
of a journalism class, and the cost was paid
for by the district. The principal reviewed the
paper prior to publishing. The paper in
question contained articles about teenage
pregnancy and divorce, and he was
concerned that all identities were not
completely protected. He eliminated those
stories from the paper.
Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier
Several students brought their school to
court, arguing that the school went against
their First Amendment freedom of speech
and press by censoring the article.
What do you think the Supreme Court
decided in this case?
Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier
The Supreme Court said no – a public
school need not affirmatively sponsor
speech that conflicts with its legitimate
pedagogical goals. The school-financed
paper was not considered a public forum
and so its editors were entitled to a lower
level of First Amendment protection than is
applicable to independent student
New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985)
Two freshmen girls are caught smoking
cigarettes in a bathroom. Smoking wasn’t
prohibited at school, but it was designated to
specific smoking areas. When called to the
principal, one girl admitted smoking. The
other (T.L.O.) said she had never smoked in
her life.
What do you think the principal did then…?
New Jersey v. T.L.O.
The principal took her to his office and
demanded her purse. When he opened it,
he found a pack of cigarettes, rolling papers,
a small amount of marijuana, a pipe, empty
plastic bags, a large quantity of money in $1
bills, an index card with a list of people who
appeared to owe her money, and two letters
that implicated her in dealing marijuana.
New Jersey v. T.L.O.
T.L.O. argued that the search violated her
Fourth Amendment right against
unreasonable search and seizure. The
Supreme Court disagreed, and said that this
search was reasonable under the Fourth
Amendment. The principal had reasonable
suspicion to believe he would find cigarettes
in her purse. WHY?
Bethel School Dist. #43 v. Fraser
A high school senior gave a speech
nominating a classmate for student body
president. His speech was filled with sexual
innuendos, prompting disciplinary action.
After appealing through the grievance
procedures at his school, he was still found
in violation of school policy and was
suspended for three days. He sued,
claiming a violation of free speech.
Bethel School Dist. #43 v. Fraser
The Supreme Court upheld the suspension.
While standing by its ruling in Tinker that
students have a right to express themselves
in nondisruptive ways, the Court limited that
expression when it is found to be sexually
Santa Fe Ind. Sch. Dist. v. Doe
The district allowed students to offer
Christian prayers over the public address
system at home football games. Two
students objected to this practice, saying it
violated the Establishment Clause.
What do you think the Court said in this
Santa Fe Ind. Sch. Dist. v. Doe
The Court held that the policy allowing the
prayers was unconstitutional. These pregame prayers were delivered on school
property, at school-sponsored events, over
the school’s public address system, by a
speaker representing the student body,
under supervision of faculty, and pursuant to
a policy that encourages prayer. This was
public – not private – prayer in school.
Board of Education v. Earls (2002)
Two students brought suit against the school
board of Tecumseh, Oklahoma, alleging that
the school policy requiring students
participating in extracurricular activities to
submit to random urinalysis testing for drug
use violated the Fourth Amendment.
Board of Education v. Earls
The Court held that students in
extracurricular activities have a diminished
expectation of privacy, and that the policy
furthered an important interest of the school
in preventing drug use among students.
Zelma v. Simmons-Harris (2002)
An Ohio scholarship/voucher program
allowed certain families to receive tuition aid
from the state, helping to offset the cost of
tuition at private schools (including religious
The Supreme Court rejected First
Amendment challenges to this program and
held that such aid does not violate the
Establishment Clause.
Random Thought of the Day:
Strip Searches
Don’t do them, unless you want to end up
like this SRO:
 “Landmark Supreme Court Cases About
 Supreme Court of the United States