Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School District, No. 24301.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtTUTTLE, GEWIN and GODBOLD, Circuit
Citation392 F.2d 697
Docket NumberNo. 24301.
Decision Date30 April 1968
PartiesL. W. FERRELL and Jo Ferrell, Next Friends of Phillip Ferrell, et al., Appellants, v. DALLAS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT et al., Appellees.

392 F.2d 697 (1968)

L. W. FERRELL and Jo Ferrell, Next Friends of Phillip Ferrell, et al., Appellants,
v.
DALLAS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT et al., Appellees.

No. 24301.

United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit.

March 29, 1968.

Rehearing Denied April 30, 1968.


392 F.2d 698

W. D. Masterson, III, Dallas, Tex., for appellants.

Franklin E. Spafford, Warren Whitham, Dallas, Tex., for appellees.

William F. Wessell, New Orleans, La., amicus curiae.

Before TUTTLE, GEWIN and GODBOLD, Circuit Judges.

GEWIN, Circuit Judge:

Appellants, Phillip Ferrell, Stephen Webb and Paul Jarvis, all minors, were denied enrollment at the W. W. Samuell High School of Dallas, Texas, because of their "Beatle" type haircuts. Suit was brought on September 12, 1966, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas by their natural parents as next friends against the Dallas Independent School District for injunctive relief. Appellants' application for a temporary restraining order was granted by the district court on September 13. However, following a full and complete hearing on the matter, the court dissolved the temporary restraining order and denied appellants' motion for a temporary injunction. 261 F.Supp. 545. We affirm.

Appellants contend that the school's regulation requiring them to cut or trim their hair as a prerequisite to enrollment is (1) unlawful under the laws and constitution of the State of Texas, (2) a denial of due process under the fourteenth amendment and (3) is discriminatory under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983. Before we resolve these several contentions, we feel that a detailed statement of the facts of this case is necessary.

Appellants are members of a musical group or combo known as "Sounds Unlimited". Each has what is commonly known as a Beatle type haircut.1 Appellants are of the opinion that their hair style conforms to the standards, customs and usage within the field of entertainment and is a necessary element of attraction and performance.2

392 F.2d 699

Prior to the commencement of the 1966-67 school year, appellants were aware that the length and style of their hair would be objectionable to school authorities. In fact, one of them, Paul Jarvis, had cut his hair so as to attend summer school during the summer of 1966.

Enrollment in the W. W. Samuell High School for the school year 1966-67 was scheduled for September 7. On the evening of September 6, the business manager or booking agent of Sounds Unlimited, Mr. Kent Alexander, sometimes referred to as "Alexander the Great," called the school principal, Mr. W. S. Lanham, at his home to discuss the matter of enrollment. He advised the principal that he had $4,000.00 invested in appellants and planned to invest an additional $1,000. Mr. Alexander also advised the principal that he was coming to the school in connection with appellants' enrollment. However, he was told that the principal would talk only to the boys and their parents. Mr. Alexander then stated that he would bring the radio and television media to the school.

To enroll, students had been informed to report to their previously assigned homerooms on September 7. Contrary to this usual procedure of enrollment, the appellants accompanied by the mothers of two of them and Mr. Alexander went to the principal's office.3 A conference was held between the principal, the boys and the two mothers, Mr. Alexander being excluded.4 At this conference there was a discussion about the boys' rights, school discipline and the principal's position. The principal informed the parties that pursuant to authority delegated to him as principal by the Dallas Independent School District he had established rules and regulations concerning the appearance of students at the school.5 It was the opinion of the principal that the length and style of the boys' hair would cause commotion, trouble, distraction and a disturbance in the school and, therefore, it was necessary for their hair to be cut or trimmed before admittance would be allowed. Appellants advised the principal that they would not cut their hair. Accordingly, Stephen Webb and Phillip Ferrell were thereupon denied admission to the school. Paul Jarvis, whose hair had not yet attained the length of the other two, having been previously trimmed for summer school, was not refused admission until later at which time his hair had apparently grown to a point where in the opinion of the principal it would be a disturbing influence in the school.

392 F.2d 700

True to his word, Mr. Alexander had called newspapers, radio stations and television stations to be present at the school on September 7. At the conclusion of the conference in the principal's office, the boys left the school building and proceeded to the sidewalk on the west side of the school grounds where the three boys and Mr. Alexander held a press interview, and pictures, motion pictures and sound tapes were made.

Later the three boys went to a recording studio to write and record a "protest" song about the matter. The recording was completed and the record entitled "Keep Your Hands Off It"6 was first played on the air Friday morning, September 9. For several days thereafter it was played numerous times on several radio stations.

Administrative procedures established by the Dallas Independent School District for review of a principal's ruling include appeal to the Assistant Superintendent of Administration, then to the Superintendent of Schools and finally to the Board of Education. Efforts were made by or on behalf of the appellants to present their problem to higher school authorities. A conversation on September 7 between the three boys and the Assistant Superintendent of Administration was held on the steps of the school administration building. Appellants went to the office of the Superintendent of Schools but the Superintendent was not there at the time. Later their attorney discussed the matter by telephone with the Superintendent. The attorney was advised that the Superintendent would support the principal's ruling. The President of the Board of Education made a public statement over television that the Superintendent would be backed by the Dallas School Board and that he approved the action of the principal. On September 8 and 9 the boys inquired into the possibility of transferring schools. They were informed by the principal that since the next period for acceptance of applications for transfer did not begin until September 21, he could not take an application for a transfer at that time. The boys also went to seven different schools on September 8 seeking to be admitted, but were unsuccessful.

At the hearing held in the district court much testimony was given regarding the fact that the wearing of long hair by young men and boys is currently in vogue. This fact was said to be especially true in the case of youthful entertainers, particularly rock and roll musicians. The object of such testimony was to demonstrate that long hair was no longer a rare or unusual feature among teenagers and that it had become well accepted by the younger generation.

Nevertheless, Mr. Lanham had a different story to tell about long hair. He recited several examples of the problems caused by boys wearing the Beatle type hair style in school. On one occasion a group of boys in his school had decided that a classmate's hair was too long and that they were going to take the matter in their own hands and trim it themselves. Mr. Lanham stated that boys with long hair were subjected to substantial harassment. Obscene language had been used by some students in reference to others with long hair and girls had come to his office complaining about the language being used. The long hair boys had also been challenged to a fight

392 F.2d 701
by other boys who did not like long hair. Also, long hair boys had been told by others that the girl's restroom was right down the hall. Mr. Lanham mentioned one long hair boy who refused to go to the boy's restroom until the other boys had left. He referred to other incidents where the boys would eat in the lunchroom only with the girls and never eat with the boys

Several students, sporting a Beatle type haircut also testified at the hearing. Some testified that they had encountered no problems with regard to their hair. However, some of these boys stated that remarks had been made to them by other boys about their hair. Also one student admitted a fight had ensued over the fact that the football "guys" at the school did not like long hair.

During the hearing Mr. Lanham stated on numerous occasions that his decision to refuse appellants admission to school was based solely on the length and style of their hair and was not influenced by other considerations. Appellants' attorney tried in vain to establish that the principal's decision was based, in part, on the actions of Mr. Alexander in calling his home on the evening of September 6 and in alerting the press the next day and the fact that appellants had recorded a protest song about the matter. However, Mr. Lanham did state that he felt that Mr. Alexander by calling him at his home the evening before enrollment had challenged him. Further, Mr. Lanham stated that he viewed the recording made by appellants as directed towards him personally rather than just a general protest song about hair, and that the recording held him up to ridicule, and that he did not particularly appreciate it. He related the fact that other people had commented on the record and had observed that it did refer to him.

The district court concluded that the school authorities had not acted arbitrarily, capriciously nor unreasonably in refusing to admit appellants to Samuell High School, and therefore, the court denied appellants' application for injunctive relief.

Appellants contend that the action of the school authorities was unlawful under the constitution and laws of the State of Texas. We do not...

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151 practice notes
  • Stull v. School Board of Western Beaver Jr.-Sr. HS, No. 71-1674.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • April 13, 1972
    ...— Substantive Due Process, The Ninth Amendment and John Stuart Mill, 1971 Wis.L.Rev. 922. 7 Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School District, 392 F.2d 697 (5th Cir. 1968); Wood v. Alamo Heights Independent School District, 433 F.2d 355 (5th Cir. 1970); Davis v. Firment, 408 F.2d 1085 (5th Cir.......
  • Rumler v. BOARD OF SCH. TR. FOR LEXINGTON CTY. DIST. NO. 1 SCHOOLS, Civ. A. No. 70-1080.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • May 17, 1971
    ...to prescribe similar disciplinary regulations are: Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School District (N.D.Tex.1966), 261 F.Supp. 545, aff. 392 F.2d 697 (C.A. 5, 1968), cert. den. 393 U.S. 856, 89 S.Ct. 98, 21 L.Ed. 2d 125; Stevenson v. Wheeler County Board of Education (S.D.Ga.1969), 306 F.Supp......
  • Jenkins by Hall v. Talladega City Bd. of Educ., No. 95-6243
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • September 23, 1996
    ...they are consigned, and the citizenry is outraged if the schools are less than safe and orderly. Ferrell v. Dallas Indep. School Dist., 392 F.2d 697, 704 (5th Cir.) (Godbold, J., concurring), cert. denied, 393 U.S. 856, 89 S.Ct. 98, 21 L.Ed.2d 125 7 Clearly, the facts and law in this case d......
  • Hayes v. Cape Henlopen School District, Civ. A. No. 4019.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • April 11, 1972
    ...Cir. 1970); Moreno v. Henckel, supra. See also: Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School Dist., 261 F.Supp. 545, 549 (N.D.Texas 1966) aff'd 392 F.2d 697 (5th Cir. 1968), cert. denied 393 U.S. 856, 89 S.Ct. 98, 21 L.Ed.2d 125 (1968); C. Wright, Law of Federal Courts, § 49, n. 6 (2nd ed. 9 First ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
151 cases
  • Stull v. School Board of Western Beaver Jr.-Sr. HS, No. 71-1674.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • April 13, 1972
    ...— Substantive Due Process, The Ninth Amendment and John Stuart Mill, 1971 Wis.L.Rev. 922. 7 Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School District, 392 F.2d 697 (5th Cir. 1968); Wood v. Alamo Heights Independent School District, 433 F.2d 355 (5th Cir. 1970); Davis v. Firment, 408 F.2d 1085 (5th Cir.......
  • Rumler v. BOARD OF SCH. TR. FOR LEXINGTON CTY. DIST. NO. 1 SCHOOLS, Civ. A. No. 70-1080.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • May 17, 1971
    ...to prescribe similar disciplinary regulations are: Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School District (N.D.Tex.1966), 261 F.Supp. 545, aff. 392 F.2d 697 (C.A. 5, 1968), cert. den. 393 U.S. 856, 89 S.Ct. 98, 21 L.Ed. 2d 125; Stevenson v. Wheeler County Board of Education (S.D.Ga.1969), 306 F.Supp......
  • Jenkins by Hall v. Talladega City Bd. of Educ., No. 95-6243
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • September 23, 1996
    ...they are consigned, and the citizenry is outraged if the schools are less than safe and orderly. Ferrell v. Dallas Indep. School Dist., 392 F.2d 697, 704 (5th Cir.) (Godbold, J., concurring), cert. denied, 393 U.S. 856, 89 S.Ct. 98, 21 L.Ed.2d 125 7 Clearly, the facts and law in this case d......
  • Hayes v. Cape Henlopen School District, Civ. A. No. 4019.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • April 11, 1972
    ...Cir. 1970); Moreno v. Henckel, supra. See also: Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School Dist., 261 F.Supp. 545, 549 (N.D.Texas 1966) aff'd 392 F.2d 697 (5th Cir. 1968), cert. denied 393 U.S. 856, 89 S.Ct. 98, 21 L.Ed.2d 125 (1968); C. Wright, Law of Federal Courts, § 49, n. 6 (2nd ed. 9 First ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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