Aug. 2, 1998 – The Connecticut Supreme Court recently ruled that a high school cannot expel a student for an off-campus act unless it “markedly interrupts or severely impedes the day-to-day operation of a school,” and not merely because it violates school policy. Grounds for expulsion may include telephoned bomb threats or threatening a teacher or student while off school grounds.
This case was brought by a student who was a 17-year-old senior when he was arrested for the possession of 2 ounces of pot, while he was off-campus after school hours. His school reacted to the arrest by expelling him for a semester and barring him from extracurricular activities for an entire year.
According to the school’s student handbook, a student may be expelled for off-campus reasons. State law also allows students to be expelled for off-campus activities that “are seriously disruptive of the educational process.
Nonetheless, the student still fought back. He filed a lawsuit and immediately received an injunction (a hold), which allowed him to return to school while the case was tried in court. The lawsuit eventually reached the Supreme Court of Connecticut, which ruled in his favor.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Callahan said, “The school expulsion statute, as applied to these set of facts, however, is simply too vague to be constitutionally enforceable,” He also stated that the State law does not give school boards the power to define “seriously disruptive of the educational process.” Rather, schools must follow the Legislature’s definition of the term.
This means that your high school probably cannot expel you for off-campus crimes. If your school tries to expel you, and you have not made a bomb-threat or threatened a student or teacher, then you should threaten to sue your school. If they still expel you or even bar you from extracurriculur activities, then immediately seek an injunction, based on this Connecticut decision, so you can stay in school or on a sports team. Then file your lawsuit.
All courts first try to base their decisions upon past decisions. In your trial, your lawyer will refer to the Connecticut Supreme Court decision. Your court will likely adopt the same position.
Despite the decision, your school officials may still try to expel you because they will think that you won’t file a lawsuit or they may think that they can still win. You must fight back and file another lawsuit. The best way to strengthen the rights of teenagers is to have multiple lawsuit victories that, when combined, clearly state the rights of teenagers.
Packer’s lawyer, William A. Conti of Torrington, said the ruling was “a terrific victory for Kyle and a terrific victory for students everywhere.” “A war on drugs does not have to be a war on the Constitution. People have rights,” Conti said.
This Libertarian Rockstar fought for his rights and, in the process, he ensured that thousands of teens around the country cannot be legally expelled for most off-campus actions.