Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union


Students' Rights Court Cases


Most people’s first major encounter with the government is in the school setting. For students to appreciate the importance of civil liberties, it is critical that their rights be practiced and protected in that setting.

1975: Gluckman v. Sheehan

Successful federal suit on behalf of a student punished for remaining quietly seated while the Pledge of Allegiance was recited in class.

1977: In re: Johnston School Athletic Program

Favorably settled Title IX complaint alleging that the school provided unequal athletic opportunity and facilities for girls.

1981: The Independent Press v. Brunelle

Successful federal court challenge to Chariho School Committee decision prohibiting a student from distributing and selling an alternative school paper on school premises.

1986: Quadrino and Rice v. Warwick School Committee

Favorably settled administrative appeal challenging a school dress code barring students from wearing shorts or sleeveless blouses to school.

1988: Lyman v. Kellner

Favorably settled federal lawsuit on behalf of students barred from extra-curricular activities for refusing to sign an oath condemning drug and alcohol use.

1992: Chreim v. Board of Governors for Higher Education

Favorably settled suit on behalf of URI student denied in-state tuition residency status solely because he had not lived in-state for one year before enrolling.

1993: Michaud v. Middletown School Committee

Successful representation before state Board of Regents of student challenging a grade reduction given him because of an unexpected absence.

1995: Anderson v. Cumberland School Committee

Successful administrative appeal on behalf of high school students suspended for demonstrating in front of the school in opposition to a new dress code.

1997: Goncalves and Lee v. Pawtucket School Committee

Administrative appeal to the state Commissioner of Education seeking to overturn the 10-day “zero tolerance” suspensions imposed on two Pawtucket first grade students for having a toy ray gun in school; favorably settled.

1998: Parker v. School Committee of the Town of Westerly

Successful administrative challenge to the suspension of a high school student for wearing a rock band T-shirt with the numerals “666” on it.

2000: Parent v. School Committee of the Town of Johnston

Favorably settled federal lawsuit challenging the summary suspension of a high school student based solely on the content of a “free write” composition.

2002: In re: C.H.

Defense of a student charged in a wayward petition with “disorderly conduct” after he drew on a piece of paper in school a picture of a stick figure with a dynamite device blowing up the building; the charge was filed.

2006: Women's Studies Organization of RIC v. Rhode Island College

Favorably settled lawsuit challenging a college’s censorship of a campus sign display sponsored by a student women’s rights group.

2006: Agin v. Portsmouth School Committee

Successful lawsuit challenging a school ban on a student appearing in medieval garb and holding a prop broadsword for his senior yearbook photo.

2010: Lopera v. Town of Coventry

“Friend of the court” brief challenging the constitutionality of a police search conducted on student athletes leaving a soccer match, based solely on the coach’s consent.

2011: Boyer v. Jeremiah

Class-action lawsuit charging that the state’s truancy court system is devoid of basic due process protections, and that school districts unlawfully refer students to the court.

Return to: Recent Students' Rights Cases

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