Homemade Switchblade Knife and a Bent Fork: Judicial Place Setting and Student Discipline, A

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Authors
Pedersen, David M.
Issue Date
1998
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INTRODUCTION|There is no more important relationship for the judiciary to get right than the relationship between the courts and public elementary and secondary education, particularly as it impacts the discipline of students. The Nebraska Supreme Court recently had before it two cases involving the expulsion of middle school students, one for possession of a homemade switchblade knife at school and one for injuring another student with a hand-heated fork. Each of these cases is worthy of study in its own right. However, this article will focus on the broader issue of how federal and state courts in the United States currently exercise judicial review of student disciplinary decisions by public school educators and then make some suggestions for enhancing the deference courts are currently granting to public elementary and secondary educators. The concern of this article is not procedural, but substantive. There are obviously certain procedures which must be followed before a court generally may review actions taken by public school officials. Those procedures vary from state-to-state and court-to-court. The central focus of this article is on the substantive standards in light of which courts review public school decision-making once those public school decisions are properly procedurally before the court. These substantive principles of decision-making are both statutory and decisional. For example, the Nebraska Student Discipline Act at section 79-291, lists a state district court's authority to alter school board decision-making in student discipline cases. That authority is limited to...
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31 Creighton L. Rev. 1053 (1997-1998)
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Creighton University School of Law
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