22. The latest cases of School Suspensions in the U.S.
................................... In comparison with Japan's

..Different points in Japan and the U. S.
Shoji Sugita
Japanese version is here.
I think Journal of LAW & EDUCATION ( Jefferson Law Book Company ) is one of the most authorized
quarterly magazines of school law in the U. S. Here, I will describe the outlines of some cases of School
Suspensions which are put in it, and also, I will describe some Japanese situations about it.
T Stephenson v. Davenport Community School District : Davenport Community School Board
1. Background
Z@In February of 1990, B. Stephenson, an 8th grade student, tatooed a small cross between her thumb
and index finger.
She wore the tatoo without incident while enrolled in the District for the next thirty months, and intended
it to be a form of " self- expression. " She did not intend the tatoo to communicate gang affiliation.
Z@She worked her way onto the honor roll and served as a home room representative. Her report card
characterize her as " conscientious & diligent " and a " pleasure to have in class. " and she had no
record of disciplinary problems and was never involved in gang activity.
Z@While she attended W. High School, gang activity increased. Students brought weapons to class and
violence resulted from gang members threatening other students.
Z@In August 1992, Superintendent P. sent a letter to District parents that included the District's
" Proactive Disciplinary Position K - 12. " That regulation states that gang related activities such as
display of colors, symbols, signals, signs, etc. , will not be tolerated on school grounds. Students in
violation will be suspended from school and / or recommended to the Board for expulsion. "
Z@On August 31, she visited Counselor G. to discuss her class schedule. G. noticed her tatoo, considered
iit a gang symbol, and notified Associate Principal J. F. consulted Police Liaison Officer D.H. and he
stated his opinion that it was a gang symbol.
Z@F. phoned her mother and informed her that she was suspended for the day. Her parents met with
F. the following morning. F. informed her parents that she needed to remove or alter the tatoo, other-
wise the school would initiate disciplinary procedures and suspend her for ten days.
Z@On September 25, she and her mother again met with F. and R. and confirmed that she was completing
laser treatment for removal of the tatoo later that day. The doctor performing the removal " burnt
through four layers of ... skin and then followed up the procedure with two months of various appointments
at which the skin was scraped off with razor blade to prevent the bleeding of the tatoo. Cost about $ 500,
left a scar on her hand.
Z@On February 14, 1996, she appealed.
2. Key points of the Decision
Z@We disagree " Claims for damage or other monetary relief automatically avoid mootness, so long as
the claim remains viable."
Z@The regulations descrirption of forbidden gang activities state : Gang related activities such as display
of " color ", symbols, signals, signs, etc., will not be tolerated on school grounds. Students in violation
will be suspended from school and / or recommended to the Board for expulsion.
The meaning of her tatoo, a cross, is contested by the parties as she considers it simply a form of
" Self - expression " while appelless believe it is a gang symbol.
Z@Both regulations, however, leave " gang " undefined, yet it represents the sole adjective for the
prohibited "colors " , symbols, signals, signs, etc. Accordingly the District regulation fails to provide
adequate notice of prohibited conduct because the term " gang " without more, is fatally vague.
Accordingly, the District regulation violate the central purposes of the vagueness doctorine because
it fails to provide adequate notice regarding unacceptable conduct and fails to offer clear guidance for
those who apply it.
Z@The school's need to be able to impose disciplinary sanctions for a wide range of unanticipated
conduct disruptive of the educational process, the school disciplinary rules need not be as detailed as
a criminal code which impose criminal sanctions.
And, sadly, gang activity is not relegated to signs and symbols otherwise indecipherable to the
Procedural Due Process
@Principal immediately informs parent in writing giving reasons for all suspensions. Principal schedules
a meeting as soon as possible with student and parents at which time they have the opportunity to
respond to the allegations.
A prompt impartial hearing shall be scheduled by written notice to the pupil and parents. The pupil
shall be entitled to representation by counsel and have the right to call and cross-examine witnesses.
We reject her argument.
3. Conclusion
We affirm in part and reverse in part and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge, concurring and dissenting.
I wonder, whatever small cross a high school student tatooed between her thumb and index finger, but
there had continued for the next thirty months without any problem among her parents, her friends,
school staff, while gang activities had increased.
In Japan, there would never be such a situation.
U Jason Spencer v. United School Ditrict No. 501,
............................. Kansas Court of Appeals, No. 75.201, April, 1997
1. Background
Z@Jason was suspended for the remainder of the 1995 school year based upon an incident that
occured in February 1995.
While Jason and two other students were eating in his car in the school parking lot, one of his
passengers removed a pellet pistol which looked like a real handgun from underneath the front
Z@A parent saw the gun and reported his license tag number to school security. The student was
cooperative in the ensuring investigation by school officials.
Z@he principal imposed an extended suspension finding that the charge of possesion of a look-
alike handgun.
He appealed to the district court, which upheld the Board's action.
2. Keypoints of the Decision
Z@We conclude that while the principal did not specifically state which code he had violated, he
did not impliedly acquit him of engaging in unruly conduct that disrupts school.
The Board did not act beyond its authority of beyond the scope of its review.
Z@The United States Supreme Court addressed the issue of vaguness of school regulation :
..... New Jersey v. T. L. O. 469 U. S. at 340, Given the school's need to be able to impose
disciplinary sanctions for a wide range of unanticipated conduct disruptive of the educational
process, the school disciplinary rules need not be as detailed as a criminal code which imposes
criminal sanctions.
Z@We agree with the district court that the school need not have a regulation specifically prohibit-
ing the possesions of look alike handguns.
The principal testified that both parents and students have a right to feel safe at the school and his
behavior had impinged on those rights.
In Japan, we would get a similar conclusion, too. But, recently, there was a terrible incident
of a rifle shooting at some public high school in Colorado, and the media reported that two or three
students had brought some rifles and some bombs easily into the school.
I wonder why the gap of these two cases are so much in the U. S.
V In the Matter of Nicole Phillips
.............. No. COA 97- 581, Filed March 1998
1. Background
Z@Phillips, attended B. C. High School, a public school in North Carolina. On the morning of 4
October 1996, P. assistant principal, observed a bank bag containing the school's cash and
checks stored under a counter in the school office.
During lunch, P. saw Phillips enter the school office and approach the main counter while a
secretary left the bank bag unattended.
Z@P. and female teacher entered the restroom and found the bank bag in a trash can. After
discovering the empty bank bag, P. talked with Phillips and requested she lead him to the
money. Phillips then went inside a bathroom stall and returned with the cash and checks.
@School authorities suspended her from school for ten days.
Z@On 5 December 1996 A. County of Superior Court issued a juvenile summons and petition
alleging Phillips unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously stole, took or carried belongings of the
As a result, the trial court adjudicated Phillips a juvenile delinquent and placed her on
juvenile probation for one year.
2. Key points of the Decisions
The Double Jeopardy Clause
( Note ) U. S. Const., amend. V. The Double Jeopardy Clause " protect .. against the imposition
of multiple criminal punishments for the same offense ...... when such occurs in successive
Z@Specifically, when questioning Phillips, P. did not act as an agent of law enforcement, but
as an official of the school. P. was not a sworn law enforcement officer, and had no arrest power,
and was not affiliated with any law enforcement agency.
Moreover, he did not question the juvenile to obtain information to use in criminal proceedings,
but questioned her simply for school
Z@In the present case, there is sufficient evidence in the record to support the trial court's
determination that the juvenile committed the offense of larceny.
In Japan, there would be the same conclusion about the same cases. It is not the Double Jeopardy.
........... Continue to the next .... Different points in Japan and the U. S.