322 F.Supp. 318 (W.D.Pa. 1971), Civ. A. 70-1317, Martin v. Davison

Docket NºCiv. A. 70-1317
Citation322 F.Supp. 318
Party NameMartin v. Davison
Case DateJanuary 13, 1971
CourtUnited States District Courts, 3th Circuit

Page 318

322 F.Supp. 318 (W.D.Pa. 1971)

William E. MARTIN, Jr., a minor, by his father and mother, William E. Martin, Sr. and Betty Louise Martin; and by William E. Martin, Sr. and Betty Louise Martin in their own right, Plaintiffs

v.

Harry E. DAVISON, individually and as Superintendent of the Laurel Highlands School District, et al., Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 70-1317.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania.

Jan. 13, 1971

Page 319

Myron W. Warman, of Warman & Warman, Uniontown, Pa., for plaintiffs.

Alfred E. Jones, Jr., Uniontown, Pa., for defendants.

FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND ORDRER OF COURT

MARSH, Chief Judge.

The plaintiffs, William E. Martin, Jr., a minor, by his parents, and his parents in their own right, brought this action against the defendants individually and as administrative officers and members of the Board of School Directors of Laurel Highlands School District, and against the Laurel Highlands School District, to obtain an order enjoining them from enforcing the suspension of the minor plaintiff from South Laurel Senior High School; from enforcing a written regulation pertaining to boys' haircuts; for actual and punitive damages and other relief. In addition, plaintiffs seek a declaration that the following regulation violates the rights of the minor plaintiff under the Constitution and laws of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:

'Sensible, conventional haircuts are in order. Extreme haircuts will not be allowed.' (Defendants' Ex. B, p. 15. See Appendix for complete Dress Code.)

Jurisdiction is claimed under the First, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, and 'under the various Federal Civil Rights acts, including but not limited to that set forth in Title 19, United States Code, Section 245 et seq.', amended at trial to be Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3), (4), and under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

An Answer was filed, inter alia, averring that the minor plaintiff has violated the 'Duly Adopted Dress Code of the Defendants' School District' and requesting questing that the complaint be dismissed.

With the consent of counsel for the defendants a temporary restraining order was issued enjoining the defendants from enforcing the suspension of the minor from South Laurel Senior High School and fixing a date for hearing of plaintiffs' application for a preliminary injunction.

At the hearing testimony was taken as if on final hearing. From the evidence the court makes the following

Page 320

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. The defendant, Laurel Highlands School District, includes North and South Union Townships, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Located in the School District are South Laurel Senior High School and North Laurel Senior High School. The minor plaintiff is a teenage student (probably 16) in the 11th grade of South Laurel Senior High School.

2. The minor plaintiff is a professional musician; has played the organ and piano for six years; has been a member of Uniontown Branch of the Musician's Union No. 596 for three years. He has played professionally for four years. He plays the organ in a musical group or combo known as the Rouge River Excursion, which regularly plays for night clubs, fraternity parties and wedding receptions. He usually plays two nights a week, and his average income is $50 a week. All members of this musical group have long hair. The minor plaintiff has purchased a Hammond organ and a Leslie speaker cabinet for upwards of $2,000 on which he makes payments. He transports these instruments to the places of engagement in a panel truck. Because of his earnings his parents are not required to provide him with spending money.

3. During the school year 1968-1969 while the minor was attending Junior High School in the defendant School District, he permitted his hair to grow shoulder length so that it covered his ears and extended well below his coat collar at the rear of his neck. No objection was made by any school official to the length of his hair during that school year.

4. The minor entered South Laurel Senior High School in the Fall of 1969. During that school year, he and his father were advised by the principal, the defendant Daniel Lukotch, 1 that his long hair was in violation of the regulation pertaining to haircuts.

5. The defendant Lukotch did not insist that the minor plaintiff cut his hair during the school year 1969-1970 because of the minor's three year participation in the musical group and his obligation to make payments on his musical instruments.

6. During the Fall of the school year 1970-1971, the minor plaintiff and his father were again advised by the principal, Lukotch, that the minor's hair being 'on the collar or shoulder length' and covering his ears, he was in violation of the regulation, and that he would have to cut his hair or be suspended. The principal interpreted the regulation prescribing 'sensible, conventional haircuts' to forbid 'hair on the shoulders and over the ears'.

7. The minor plaintiff refused to cut his hair and his parents concurred in his refusal. He was suspended on two occasions by the principal for three days in November, 1970, and was expelled by the School Board on the 18th day of November, 1970. However, prior to the consent restraining order issued by this court, he missed only five days of school, the suspensions not being rigidly enforced.

8. The minor plaintiff was given notice of the impending suspension, and he and his father attended a hearing before the Board of School Directors. The plaintiffs were accorded a second hearing by the Board which was attended only by plaintiffs' counsel. After the second hearing, the Board of School Directors, by motion unanimously carried, expelled the minor plaintiff 'until he complies with dress code.' (Defendants' Ex. D.)

9. The regulation pertaining to haircuts (defendants' Ex. A, p. 19) was written by the defendant Lukotch in 1969 and was approved by the School Board and the student council.

Page 321

10. According to Mr. Lukotch, the reason for the regulation is: 'I think it is important that we make an identity of the sexes in a public school' (Tr., p. 87), and it plays a part in maintaining discipline.

11. There was no evidence whatsoever that long hair on male students did or tended to disrupt school activity, or district students and teachers in the school or class rooms, or interrupted the educational process, at any time, at South Laurel Senior High School. 2

12. The 'extreme haircut' of the minor has never been a disruptive or disturbing factor in South Laurel Senior High School or in the classes he attended; there has been no discord with other students; he has received no remonstrance from any teacher because of his long hair.

13. During the period in which the minor has attended South Laurel Senior High School, the principal has not had any trouble enforcing the haircut regulation except as to the minor plaintiff who apparently is the only boy who has violated the regulation. The principal testified that a dozen or more students have voiced the objection that if the minor plaintiff is permitted to have long hair, why can't they. (Tr., p. 86.)

14. When Mr. Lukotch was assistant principal, he encountered disciplinary trouble involving a strike in North Laurel Senior High School during the 1968-1969 school year which gave rise to the dress code which he wrote in 1969. The minor plaintiff was never a student at North Laurel Senior High School. From the evidence, it does not appear that long hair on boy students was the cause of or was related to the strike.

15. The minor plaintiff gets along well in high school and has above average grades; his deportment has been evaluated 'A'; he is taking pre-college courses and would like to pursue musical studies in Berkeley School of Music in Boston or the Juilliard School of Music in New York. He believes his high school grades would have a bearing on obtaining admission to either of these schools of music.

16. The minor plaintiff insists that his long hair is a part of his personality and image as a musician; that audiences patronizing the Rouge River Excursion combo prefer long-haired musicians; and that he considers long hair necessary to make an impression upon the audiences for whom he plays.

17. While attending South Laurel Senior High School, the minor plaintiff has dressed neatly and adequately and has been neat and clean in his person, including his long hair which he keeps neatly combed. These facts are admitted in the Answer. There was no evidence to the contrary. In court he appeared well groomed from head to foot.

18. The length of the minor's hair does not present any danger to the health and safety of himself or other students. He does not work with any type of machinery in any of his school courses at South Laurel Senior High School. He does not attend the Technical School conducted by the School District.

19. No actual or punitive damages were sustained by the plaintiffs.

DISCUSSION

There have been numerous 'long hair' cases in recent years, and it appears that each must be decided in its own particular setting and factual background.

Under the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case, the court is of the opinion that the minor plaintiff's claim to liberty as to his hair style is entitled to protection from action by the State, through its agents, the public school authorities, under the due process

Page 322

clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act, §1983, Title 42 U.S.C. 3

Long ago the Supreme Court upheld the sanctity of the individual's right to control his...

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17 practice notes
  • 338 F.Supp. 945 (M.D.Pa. 1972), Civ. A. 71-423, Seal v. Mertz
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • February 22, 1972
    ...[8] Cases in addition to Richards which hold that hair length is a liberty under the Fourteenth Amendment include Martin v. Davison, 322 F.Supp. 318, 322 (W.D.Pa.1971); Gere v. Stanley, 320 F.Supp. 852, 855 (M.D.Pa.1970); Breen v. Kahl, 419 F.2d 1034, 1036 (7th Cir. [9] Although not raised ......
  • 459 F.2d 339 (3rd Cir. 1972), 71-1674, Stull v. School Bd. of Western Beaver Junior-Senior High School
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
    • April 13, 1972
    ...(W.D.Pa.1971); Berryman v. Hein, 329 F.Supp. 616 (D.C.Idaho 1971); Parker v. Fry, 323 F.Supp. 728 (E.D.Ark. 1970); Martin v. Davison, 322 F.Supp. 318 (W.D.Pa.1971); Watson v. Thompson, 321 F.Supp. 394 (E.D.Tex.1971); Black v. Cothren, 316 F.Supp. 468 (D. Neb.1970); Dunham v. Pulsifer, 312 F......
  • 360 F.Supp. 648 (E.D.Pa. 1973), Civ. A. 72-1781, Black v. Rizzo
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • June 8, 1973
    ...(8th Cir. 1971); Richards v. Thurston, 424 F.2d 1281 (1st Cir. 1970); Seal v. Mertz, 338 F.Supp. 945 (M.D.Pa.1972); Martin v. Davison, 322 F.Supp. 318 (W.D.Pa.1971). Given the substantial body of case law that has reached this conclusion, the Court is satisfied that the plaintiff has demons......
  • 341 F.Supp. 258 (D.Neb. 1972), CV 72-L-145, Reed v. Nebraska School Activities Ass'n
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit District of Nebraska
    • April 12, 1972
    ...aff'd 429 F.2d 428 (C.A.8th Cir. 1970); Blount v. Ladue School Dist., 321 F.Supp. 1245 (U.S.D.C.E.D.Mo.1970); and Martin v. Davison, 322 F.Supp. 318 (U.S.D.C.W.D.Pa.1971). Nonetheless, federal courts have granted injunctive relief, which is all that is being sought here, against such a poli......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • 338 F.Supp. 945 (M.D.Pa. 1972), Civ. A. 71-423, Seal v. Mertz
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • February 22, 1972
    ...[8] Cases in addition to Richards which hold that hair length is a liberty under the Fourteenth Amendment include Martin v. Davison, 322 F.Supp. 318, 322 (W.D.Pa.1971); Gere v. Stanley, 320 F.Supp. 852, 855 (M.D.Pa.1970); Breen v. Kahl, 419 F.2d 1034, 1036 (7th Cir. [9] Although not raised ......
  • 459 F.2d 339 (3rd Cir. 1972), 71-1674, Stull v. School Bd. of Western Beaver Junior-Senior High School
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
    • April 13, 1972
    ...(W.D.Pa.1971); Berryman v. Hein, 329 F.Supp. 616 (D.C.Idaho 1971); Parker v. Fry, 323 F.Supp. 728 (E.D.Ark. 1970); Martin v. Davison, 322 F.Supp. 318 (W.D.Pa.1971); Watson v. Thompson, 321 F.Supp. 394 (E.D.Tex.1971); Black v. Cothren, 316 F.Supp. 468 (D. Neb.1970); Dunham v. Pulsifer, 312 F......
  • 360 F.Supp. 648 (E.D.Pa. 1973), Civ. A. 72-1781, Black v. Rizzo
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • June 8, 1973
    ...(8th Cir. 1971); Richards v. Thurston, 424 F.2d 1281 (1st Cir. 1970); Seal v. Mertz, 338 F.Supp. 945 (M.D.Pa.1972); Martin v. Davison, 322 F.Supp. 318 (W.D.Pa.1971). Given the substantial body of case law that has reached this conclusion, the Court is satisfied that the plaintiff has demons......
  • 341 F.Supp. 258 (D.Neb. 1972), CV 72-L-145, Reed v. Nebraska School Activities Ass'n
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit District of Nebraska
    • April 12, 1972
    ...aff'd 429 F.2d 428 (C.A.8th Cir. 1970); Blount v. Ladue School Dist., 321 F.Supp. 1245 (U.S.D.C.E.D.Mo.1970); and Martin v. Davison, 322 F.Supp. 318 (U.S.D.C.W.D.Pa.1971). Nonetheless, federal courts have granted injunctive relief, which is all that is being sought here, against such a poli......
  • Request a trial to view additional results