1. Michael Parent Education Law Final Exam Seton Hall University
Dear Superintendent Sam,
I have reviewed the facts surrounding the disciplinary case of Stew Starr (Starr). There
are several legal issues that you must carefully consider prior to your decision to impose
Principal Patty’s requested disciplinary measures.
First, before any disciplinary action can be taken, Starr is entitled to his due process
rights. Referencing Goss v Lopes and the New Jersey administrative code, if a student it is to be
suspended for more than ten (10) days, they are entitled to an expulsion hearing. The Board of
Education will serve as the jury. Failure to grant Starr his 14th amendment right to hear and
respond to all allegations levied against him will result in a violation of his civil rights. With
that premise stated, I do find cause for disciplinary actions.
Because Starr designed a website (as an independent study school project for an approved
Board of Education course) and made use of the school’s name in order to promote and expose
his own drug use and subsequent encouragement for other students to do the same, according to
Bethel v. Fraser, Starr forfeited his first amendment right to free speech. Furthermore, because
Starr threatened violence upon another student (through his website) and then carried out that act
of violence during school hours, you are justified in levying reasonable discipline against Starr.
Although Starr may rebut, using Layshock v Hermitage, claiming that you are violating his first
amendment right of free speech, remind Starr that his first amendment right to free speech does
apply to cyber space and that his website [a] included a threat, [b] caused a disruption, and [c]
was theoretically done on school time since it was an independent project for a class grade.
Additionally, to discipline Starr for his promotion of illegal drug use is not a violation of
his first amendment rights. You will want to reference Justice Thomas’ argument in Morse et al.
2. Michael Parent Education Law Final Exam Seton Hall University
v. Frederick - when speech is reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use, a principal may
legally restrict that speech based on existing First Amendment school speech precedents, other
Constitutional jurisprudence relating to schools, and a school’s interest in deterring drug use by
In New Jersey v T.L.O., the courts found that schools need only reasonable suspicion in
order to search students’ personal and school property. Since Starr’s website was accessed
during school hours and because of the content of his website, Principal Patty was right in
conducting a narcotics investigation by searching his locker, having him empty his pockets, and
searching his vehicle which was parked on school property. Should Starr argue this search based
solely on his website, remind him that Justice White in New Jersey v T.L.O. wrote “The school
setting… requires some modification of the level of suspicion of illicit activity needed to justify
a search.” In short, the rights of students must be balanced against the needs of the school
Although no drugs turned up in Principal Patty’s search of Starr’s locker, car, or person,
she did find a stolen AP exam in Starr’s locker. For this, Starr may also be disciplined. I suggest
you use Herring v United States as your justification; although no drugs turned up in her search,
something else that is a clear violation of school and district policy did - therefore, Starr is
subject to discipline for that offense.
Utilizing these cited defenses and cases, I find no reason for concern about disciplining
Starr. I would, however, urge you to reconsider Principal Patty’s request for a twenty-day
suspension. Should you decide to move forward with disciplinary action, I remind you to first
schedule a Board of Education hearing so that Starr’s constitutional rights are met and not
violated. At that hearing, the Board of Education will make a recommendation for discipline.