Goss v. Lopez Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Students of the city public school system were suspended from school without a hearing either before or shortly after the suspensions.

Facts of the case

Nine students at two high schools and one junior high school in Columbus, Ohio, were given 10-day suspensions from school. The school principals did not hold hearings for the affected students before ordering the suspensions, and Ohio law did not require them to do so. The principals’ actions were challenged, and a federal court found that the students’ rights had been violated. The case was then appealed to the Supreme Court.

Question

Did the Columbus Public School System violate the Appellees’ due process rights when it suspended each without having a hearing?

Answer

Yes. Ohio may not withdraw the right to an education on the grounds of misconduct absent fair procedures to determine if the misconduct has occurred.

Conclusion

The Court ruled that the students had protected liberty interests in a public education that could not be taken away by suspension without the minimal procedural safeguards of notice and an opportunity to be heard, flexibly applied to the given situation. Students did not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door and the Fourteenth Amendment forbid such arbitrary deprivations of liberty as unilateral suspensions of up to 10 days without notice and hearing. Rudimentary due process was required to ensure fairness in disciplinary truth-seeking determinations.

  • Case Brief: 1975
  • Appellant: Goss
  • Appellee: Lopez
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 419 US 565 (1975)
Argued: Oct 16, 1974
Decided: Jan 22, 1975