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MARTIN v. DAVISON

January 13, 1971

William E. MARTIN, Jr., a minor, by his father and mother, William E. Martin, Sr. and Betty Louise Martin; and by William E. Martin, Sr. and Betty Louise Martin in their own right, Plaintiffs
v.
Harry E. DAVISON, individually and as Superintendent of the Laurel Highlands School District, et al., Defendants


Marsh, Chief Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARSH

MARSH, Chief Judge.

 The plaintiffs, William E. Martin, Jr., a minor, by his parents, and his parents in their own right, brought this action against the defendants individually and as administrative officers and members of the Board of School Directors of Laurel Highlands School District, and against the Laurel Highlands School District, to obtain an order enjoining them from enforcing the suspension of the minor plaintiff from South Laurel Senior High School; from enforcing a written regulation pertaining to boys' haircuts; for actual and punitive damages and other relief. In addition, plaintiffs seek a declaration that the following regulation violates the rights of the minor plaintiff under the Constitution and laws of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:

 
"Sensible, conventional haircuts are in order. Extreme haircuts will not be allowed." (Defendants' Ex. B, p. 15. See Appendix for complete Dress Code.)

 Jurisdiction is claimed under the First, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, and "under the various Federal Civil Rights acts, including but not limited to that set forth in Title 19, United States Code, Section 245 et seq.", amended at trial to be Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3), (4), and under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

 An Answer was filed, inter alia, averring that the minor plaintiff has violated the "Duly Adopted Dress Code of the Defendants' School District" and requesting that the complaint be dismissed.

 With the consent of counsel for the defendants a temporary restraining order was issued enjoining the defendants from enforcing the suspension of the minor from South Laurel Senior High School and fixing a date for hearing of plaintiffs' application for a preliminary injunction.

 At the hearing testimony was taken as if on final hearing. From the evidence the court makes the following

 1. The defendant, Laurel Highlands School District, includes North and South Union Townships, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Located in the School District are South Laurel Senior High School and North Laurel Senior High School. The minor plaintiff is a teenage student (probably 16) in the 11th grade of South Laurel Senior High School.

 2. The minor plaintiff is a professional musician; has played the organ and piano for six years; has been a member of Uniontown Branch of the Musician's Union No. 596 for three years. He has played professionally for four years. He plays the organ in a musical group or combo known as the Rouge River Excursion, which regularly plays for night clubs, fraternity parties and wedding receptions. He usually plays two nights a week, and his average income is $50 a week. All members of this musical group have long hair. The minor plaintiff has purchased a Hammond organ and a Leslie speaker cabinet for upwards of $2,000 on which he makes payments. He transports these instruments to the places of engagement in a panel truck. Because of his earnings his parents are not required to provide him with spending money.

 3. During the school year 1968-1969 while the minor was attending Junior High School in the defendant School District, he permitted his hair to grow shoulder length so that it covered his ears and extended well below his coat collar at the rear of his neck. No objection was made by any school official to the length of his hair during that school year.

 4. The minor entered South Laurel Senior High School in the Fall of 1969. During that school year, he and his father were advised by the principal, the defendant Daniel Lukotch, *fn1" that his long hair was in violation of the regulation pertaining to haircuts.

 5. The defendant Lukotch did not insist that the minor plaintiff cut his hair during the school year 1969-1970 because of the minor's three year participation in the musical group and his obligations to make payments on his musical instruments.

 6. During the Fall of the school year 1970-1971, the minor plaintiff and his father were again advised by the principal, Lukotch, that the minor's hair being "on the collar or shoulder length" and covering his ears, he was in violation of the regulation, and that he would have to cut his hair or be suspended. The principal interpreted the regulation prescribing "sensible, conventional haircuts" to forbid "hair on the shoulders and over the ears".

 7. The minor plaintiff refused to cut his hair and his parents concurred in his refusal. He was suspended on two occasions by the principal for three days in November, 1970, and was expelled by the School Board on the 18th day of November, 1970. However, prior to the consent restraining order issued by this court, he missed only five days of school, the suspensions not being rigidly enforced.

 8. The minor plaintiff was given notice of the impending suspension, and he and his father attended a hearing before the Board of School Directors. The plaintiffs were accorded a second hearing by the Board which was attended only by plaintiffs' counsel. After the second hearing, the Board of School Directors, by motion unanimously carried, expelled the minor plaintiff "until he complies with dress code." (Defendants' Ex. D.)

 9. The regulation pertaining to haircuts (defendants' Ex. A, p. 19) was written by the defendant Lukotch in 1969 and was approved by the School Board and the student council.

 11. There was no evidence whatsoever that long hair on male students did or tended to disrupt school activity, or distract students and teachers in the school or class rooms, or interrupted the educational process, at any time, at South Laurel Senior High School. *fn2"

 12. The "extreme haircut" of the minor has never been a disruptive or disturbing factor in South Laurel Senior High School or in the classes he attended; there has been no discord with other students; he has received no ...


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