Goss V. Lopez

419 U.S. 565 (1975)

 

Background

Nine students at two high schools and one junior high school in Columbus, Ohio, were given 10-day suspensions from school. The school principals did not hold hearings for the affected students before ordering the suspensions, and Ohio law did not require them to do so. The principals' actions were challenged, and a federal court found that the students' rights had been violated. The case was then appealed to the Supreme Court.

Relevancy for School Disciplinary Hearings

Did the imposition of the suspensions without preliminary hearings violate the students' Due Process rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment?

Held

Yes.

In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that because Ohio had chosen to extend the right to an education to its citizens, it could not withdraw that right "on grounds of misconduct absent fundamentally fair procedures to determine whether the misconduct ha[d] occurred." The Court held that Ohio was constrained to recognize students' entitlements to education as property interests protected by the Due Process Clause that could not be taken away without minimum procedures required by the Clause. The Court found that students facing suspension should at a minimum be given notice and afforded some kind of hearing.

Goss stands for the basic principle that a due process hearing is required if a student is facing a long-term suspension (i.e., suspension of 10-days or more) or exclusion.