Goss v. Lopez

419 U.S. 565 (1975)


Ohio law provides for a free education to all children between the ages of 6 and 21. That law also empowers the principal of an Ohio public school to suspend a pupil for misconduct for up to 10 days or to expel him. In either case, the student’s parents must be notified and given the reasons for the principal’s actions. The decision to expel may be appealed to the Board of Education. The board may reinstate the student. Nine different students alleged that they had been suspended from public school for up to 10 days without a hearing. Ps filed civil actions against the Board of Education and various administrators under 42 U.S.C. section 1983. Their complaints sought a declaration that expulsion without a hearing was unconstitutional as this violated procedural due process. Ps sought to enjoin Ds from future suspensions and to require them to remove the past suspensions from the records of Ps. The three-judge federal court declared that the students were denied due process of law contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court declared that there were 'minimum requirements of notice and a hearing prior to suspension, except in emergency situations.' In explication, the court stated that relevant case authority would: (1) permit 'immediate removal of a student whose conduct disrupts the academic atmosphere of the school, endangers fellow students, teachers or school officials, or damages property'; (2) require notice of suspension proceedings to be sent to the student's parents within 24 hours of the decision to conduct them; and (3) require a hearing to be held, with the student present, within 72 hours of his removal. With respect to the nature of the hearing, the relevant cases required that statements in support of the charge be produced, that the student and others be permitted to make statements in defense or mitigation, and that the school need not permit attendance by counsel. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.