The public school system of Mobile County, Ala., violated the constitutional rights of students by suspending them for months at a time over minor misbehavior without giving parents and guardians an opportunity to defend them. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of six students suspended for apparent minor misbehavior such as un-tucked shirts, tardiness or failing to carry a school ID.
The students, ranging from 13 to 18 years of age, collectively missed more than 445 school days during the academic year due to these suspensions. School administrators failed to provide any formal notice to the students’ parents or guardians about the grounds for the suspensions or provide an opportunity to challenge the disciplinary action.
The SPLC lawsuit says that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment entitles students to notice and a fair hearing where they can defend themselves before a long-term suspension or expulsion. Long-term suspensions in Mobile County Public Schools ranged from 11 days until the end of the semester.
In addition to being denied this most basic constitutional right, these students also were denied their right to an education. Students who are suspended miss valuable class time, creating major setbacks in their education and their emotional development.