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Tinker v. Des Moines 1969

The United States Supreme Court Case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, in 1969 defined the First Amendment rights of students in public high school system. The Supreme Court decided: "students have the right to engage in peaceful non-disruptive protest" (Guide to U.S. Supreme Court 901). Before Tinker v. Des Moines, the rights of students were not regarded as being of any importance. Tinker v. Des Moines set the standard for the recognition of the rights of students in public high schools.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas 1954

In 1954 the rights of students were indirectly discussed, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The issue of separate but equal education facilities for all students was in question. In the end, all public schools in the United States of America were forced to begin the process of desegregation. Before the United States Supreme Court ruled on this case, equal education for all students did not exist. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas ended segregation and allowed all students the same right to equal education ("Ask Sybil Liberty" 1998).

School District of Abington Township v. Schempp 1963

School District of Abington Township v. Schempp in 1963, Pennsylvanian High School students were required to sit through the recital of ten Bible verses every morning. The Schempp family believed this was a violation of their Fourteenth Amendment right because the school provided only copies of the King James Bible and not any other holy books. The Schempp family decided to file suit against the school district. The decision was that the Pennsylvania law was unconstitutional, as Justice Thomas Clark stated in the majority opinion: In the light of the history of the First Amendment and of our [previous decisions] interpreting and applying its requirements, we hold that the practices at issue and the laws requiring them are unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment (Harrison and Gilbert 43). This case helped establish the fact that students do have the right to freedom from religion, and that all laws must apply equally to everyone, not just the majority.

Engel v. Vitale 1962

Engel v. Vitale in 1962, students in a public New York school were required to start a day with a prayer (Harrison and Gilbert 31). The parents of the students brought suit against the school. This case, like Abington v. Schempp, defined a student's right to religion and freedom from religion. In this case the Supreme Court decided that a prayer could not be said to start off the day. Unlike in Abington v. Schempp, the prayer was "written" by the head of the school district's Board of Regents (Harrison and Gilbert 31). The court again said that public school students have the right to be free from religious oppression.

Veronia v. Acton 1995

In Veronia v. Acton the issue concerned the drug testing of athletes at an Oregon Public High School. In 1995, drug abuse was a major problem in Veronia, Oregon, and the school district reacted by implementing a policy of drug testing all student athletes. When a member of the Acton family had signed up for athletics in the school district, the parents did not sign the testing agreement. They believed this policy violated their son's privacy. The United States Supreme Court felt that this policy of drug testing was constitutional and that by voluntarily becoming an athlete the person gave up some privacy (Harrison and Gilbert 175). These cases helped all those involved with public high schools know exactly the rights of public school students.


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