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MILLER v. GILLIS

September 25, 1969

DAVID MILLER, A MINOR, AND BEN F. MILLER III AND ALICE MILLER, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PARENTS AND NEXT FRIEND, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
J. WALTER GILLIS, ELIZABETH M. RUECK, ROBERT A. MADDING, ROBERT M. BAKER, JOHN FENCIK, GEORGE B. FOY, EDWIN A. TROUTT, THOMAS E. ENGLISH, SEARS L. HALLETT, MITCHELL P. KARTALIA, RAYMOND J. VAN ROYDEN, AND PAUL L. WILLIAMS, EACH INDIVIDUALLY AND AS MEMBERS OR AGENTS OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION, SCHOOL DISTRICT #224, COUNTY OF LAKE, STATE OF ILLINOIS, A BODY POLITIC AND CORPORATE, AND THE BOARD OF EDUCATION SCHOOL DISTRICT #224, COUNTY OF LAKE, STATE OF ILLINOIS, A BODY POLITIC AND CORPORATE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Parsons, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

The question presented by this case is whether a publically supported school district operating under state law that gives it authority to discipline pupils who attend its schools can refuse re-admission to or expel from its high school a male pupil who wears his hair shoulder length without violating some right guaranteed to him by the Constitution of the United States.

It must be made clear from the outset that this is not a case involving a revolutionary type young man, who by bizarre attire, filth of body and clothes, obscene language and subversive-like organizational activity, seeks to wage war against the established institutions of the community or nation. It is not a case involving youth commonly referred to as "beatniks" or "hippies" or "yippies". It is simply a case of a seventeen year old boy wearing hair substantially longer than that permitted by the school's regulations.

Under Illinois law, there is compulsory school attendance until the child reaches sixteen years of age, and, if he is above sixteen years of age and is enrolled in any grade through the fourth year of high school, he is compelled to attend school during the regular school term. Ill.Rev.Stat., Chap. 122, Sections 26-1 and 26-2. School Boards have the duty "to adopt and enforce all necessary rules for the management and government of public schools of their district", and the maintenance of discipline among the pupils in them, and in doing so are empowered to expel or suspend students guilty of gross disobedience; and teachers and other certificated educational employees are directed to maintain discipline in the schools. Ill.Rev.Stat. Chap. 122, Sections 10-20.5, 10-22.6(a) and 24-24.

A careful examination of the Chapter on Schools of the Illinois Revised Statutes (Chap. 122), and particularly of those sections relating to the powers and duties of school boards, reveals no express or implied authority in the exercise of which a school board may deny admission to a child who otherwise is authorized by Illinois law to attend school.

In this case, the plaintiffs, David Miller, a minor, and his parents and next friends, Ben F. Miller III and Alice Miller, brought action against the Board of Education of School District #224 in Lake County, Illinois, defendants, asking for an injunctive order compelling the school board and its members to admit David Miller to the Barrington Consolidated High School, and preventing them from suspending or expelling him from that school subsequent to his admission.

Jurisdiction is asserted under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 2201, 2202 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of this suit. My findings of fact and conclusions of law appear in this opinion.

For the past six years, Barrington Consolidated High School, located in Barrington, Illinois, a suburban community located northwest of Chicago, has had a dress code regulating the type and manner of students' clothing and appearance. In the school year of 1968-1969, the enforcement of this code was relaxed, and, along with other disciplinary matters, was turned over to the students. During that period, there was an increase of complaints by teachers and parents to the School Board concerning an apparent lack of discipline among students. In addition, the Board noticed a higher rate of truancy during the period of relaxation.

During 1968-1969, David Miller allowed his hair to grow until at the end of the school year it was one-inch or less shorter than the shoulder length it was at the time of the hearing in this case. Although the length of the plaintiff's hair during the last school term exceeded the standards set out in the dress code, David was allowed to remain in school until the end of the term at his mother's request, because it was thought by her that dismissal or suspension would have an adverse psychological effect on the boy.

Two weeks before the day set for this year's enrollment, the School Board circulated to every prospective student a document entitled, "1969-70 Student Handbook, Barrington Consolidated High School", which sets out information, maps, school songs and organizations, a list of faculty members, and a number of regulations to be in effect this school year. Among the regulations, there is a section concerning dress of students, which reads as follows:

DRESS

  The appropriateness of dress is a subject on which
  opinions can and do vary. We wish there were no
  need for a dress code but it is believed a
  minority of students would take advantage of this
  privilege. For this reason, it is asked that
  students assume responsibility for the way they
  dress and do not wear extreme style or fit.
  Dressing the way we please is a privilege. Please
  do not take advantage of these few requirements.

Boys

I. Pants

      A. Dress pants, slacks, pressed khakis, or
      levis shall be worn.
      1. Pants shall be worn at the waist, not low
      on the hips.
      2. Belts should be worn at all times except in
      the case of pants without belt loops. Built-in
      belts are acceptable (such as continental
      style).

II. Shirts

      A. Shirt tails must be tucked in and shirts
      properly buttoned. Sport shirts, if square
      cut, may be worn in or out.
    1. White T-shirts are considered underwear and
    therefore are not acceptable unless covered by a
    shirt.
    2. Sweatshirts or other shirts displaying the
    name or emblem of a non-campus club, group, or
    business, are not acceptable.

III. Shoes

    A. Feet should be properly covered. Boots are
    not to be worn during the school day because of
    health reasons and floor damage.
    1. Socks are to be worn at all times for health
    reasons.
    2. Taps that create a noise or property damage
    are not to be worn (unless required by a
    ...

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