1970, was officially suspended by means of a hand-delivered letter signed by Principal Albert Hook.
Plaintiff was never given a proper hearing before the School Board after charges as required by Section 1318 of the Pennsylvania School Code (24 P.S. § 13-1318) but this defect also was waived by plaintiffs.
7. There has been no evidence submitted that long hair on male students has at any time disrupted school activity or discipline, distracted students or teachers in classrooms, or interrupted the educational process at Memorial Junior High School.
8. The minor plaintiff's long hair has never been a disruptive or disturbing influence at Memorial Junior High School nor has it adversely affected such minor's academic performance, nor interfered with educational processes.
9. The minor plaintiff has been neat and clean in his person, including his long hair which he keeps neatly combed. The length of this minor's hair presents no danger to the health and safety either of himself or of other students.
10. As a result of this suspension, this action was instituted, under the provisions of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3, 4). On December 10, 1970, this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order, which was later extended and the minor plaintiff returned to school. On December 28, 1970, a hearing on Motion for a Preliminary Injunction was held. It was stipulated that evidence taken at this hearing should also be applicable to the request for a permanent injunction.
11. No actual or punitive damages were sustained by the plaintiff.
12. Defendants are administrators and directors of the Erie School District as set forth in the caption.
This is another of what has been described by the Court of Appeals of the First Circuit as a growing "thicket" of hair cases. ( Richards v. Thurston, 424 F.2d 1281, 1970). The Federal Courts in this country are now being classified as "pro hair" and "anti-hair". The U.S. Supreme Court has thus far not reviewed the hair situation.
Inasmuch as the plaintiffs specifically waive any challenge to the Administrative procedure relating to the suspension and do not raise any question of vagueness or of freedom of speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Court will concentrate its discussion on the following issue: Is the regulation of hair length and hair styling by a school administration an infringement of the constitutional rights of liberty of an individual as afforded under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution?
While it is acknowledged that school authorities stand in the position of loco parentis over children while they are in attendance at school
and that the Board of School Directors have full power to enact and enforce reasonable rules and regulations concerning the conduct of students while at school,
such statutory authority resides solely in the Board of School Directors and not in the administration of individual schools. However, plaintiffs make no challenge to the promulgation of reasonable rules by individual school administrators when tailored to the exigencies of their specific situations.
An examination of the "long-hair cases" to date makes clear that each such case must be decided on its own factual background and setting. Under the peculiar facts and circumstances of the instant case, the plaintiffs properly contend that such regulations concerning personal behavior and appearance are appropriate in the area of conduct only where necessary to prevent "a deleterious effect on the student's ability to read and write and to communicate and interact with other human beings in a positive manner".
The Supreme Court has cautioned school officials that they do not possess absolute authority over their students with the following language: "In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. Students in school as well as out of school are 'persons' under our Constitution. They are possessed of fundamental right which the State must respect, just as they themselves must respect their obligations to the State." Tinker v. Des Moines Community School District, 393 U.S. 503, 511, 89 S. Ct. 733, 739, 21 L. Ed. 2d 731 (1968). It is clear that the "in loco parentis" section of the Pennsylvania School Code (24 P.S. § 13-1317) was never intended to invest the schools with all the authority of parents over their minor children but only such control as is necessary to prevent infractions of discipline and interference with the educational process. See Guerrieri v. Tyson, 147 Pa. Super. 239, 24 A. 2d 468 (1942).
In the absence of a clear showing that school regulations are necessary to prevent disruption of the educational process, recent case law recognizes that an individual's hair style and personal appearance are entitled to protection from action by the State, or its agents, under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Westley v. Rossi, 305 F. Supp. 706 (D. Minn. 1969); Richards v. Thurston, 424 F.2d 1281 (1st Cir. 1970); Gere v. Stanley, 320 F. Supp. 852 (Pa. 1970); Martin v. Davison, 322 F. Supp. 318 (Pa. 1971).
The Supreme Court has long recognized the individual's right to control his own person:
"No right is held more sacred, or is more carefully guarded, by the common law, than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person, free from all restraint or interference of others, unless by clear and unquestionable authority of law." Union Pacific Rwy. v. Botsford, 141 U.S. 250, 251, 11 S. Ct. 1000, 1001, 35 L. Ed. 734 (1891).