In August 2008 the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that a 15-year old student at Bolingbrook High School had received sufficient due process before being expelled for two semesters over a gang-related confrontation in the school’s cafeteria. The confrontation did not involve violence, but the flashing of “gang signals,” and the student was charged with violating the school’s “subversive organizations” rule. The Court said the student had been given a meaningful opportunity to be heard, and that he was not entitled to cross-examine school security guards or to have a Spanish-language interpreter present at the hearing
In January 2009, the US District Court for Northern Illinois ruled that a state law requiring a moment of silence in public schools was unconstitutional. According to the court, “the statute is a subtle effort to force students at impressionable ages to contemplate religion” and crosses the line separating Church and State.
FIRST AMENDMENT - ZERO TOLERANCE
In 2009, after the ACLU brought a lawsuit on behalf of a student who was challenging the policy of Lebanon School district that female students had to wear dresses at the prom, the school reversed its policy. The student had asserted that the school violated her right to express herself and discriminated against her because of her gender. She won the right to wear a tuxedo to the prom.
In 2007, a federal district court upheld the expulsion of a high school freshman at Plainfield North High School for, on two occasions, brushing the buttocks of his teacher as she walked by. After a disciplinary hearing attended by the student’s mother and an attorney, the student was expelled for the remainder of the 2006-07 school year and the entire 2007-08 school year. The school’s decision was based in part on statements from three students who said they had overheard the freshman make sexual comments about the teacher. The student was not permitted to cross-examine the unidentified students. The court held that the student’s due process rights had not been violated since he was given notice of the charges against him and a chance to present his side of the story as required by the Supreme Court decision in Goss v. Lopez. Students do not, the court ruled, have the Fourteenth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against them since “schools have a strong interest in protecting students who come forward to report misconduct by their peers.”