CJAD 425 CC Legal Memorandum


You are a law clerk at a law firm. Susie Speeker’s family has asked your firm to sue her school district for suspending her. Read the following fact pattern, find and read relevant legal sources, and write a predictive memorandum addressing the two issues listed after the fact pattern.Susie Speeker is a student at Oliver Wendell Holmes High School, located in South Bay County School District. South Bay County is a small community and has only one high school. Recently Susie Speeker was suspended from school by Principal Pat Strickland for her involvement with drugs. The factual background is as follows.For several months, the high school has had a special program directed at promoting the health of students. One of the topics stressed in this program is the harmful effects of drug use. In May of last year, the community of South Bay sponsored a community-wide health fair held in a city park. Various private and public community entities were invited to set up informational booths at the fair. There was no fee for participating, nor did any of the participants have any voice in the organization or operation of the fair. South Bay High School was invited to have a booth and they agreed to do so. At the booth, volunteers from the school (mostly teachers) agreed to disseminate material on a number of health issues, including the use of drugs.The school administration and various teachers at Oliver Wendell Holmes High School encouraged students to attend the fair and promised “extra credit” if they attended the fair. Attendance would be verified by students signing an attendance sheet to be kept at the school-sponsored booth.Susie Speeker attended the fair with her parents and older brother. The Speeker family believes that marijuana should be legalized for compassionate use by those who suffer from different illnesses. Susie’s mother is a breast cancer survivor and her experiences led to this belief. At the fair, Susie held a sign which read, “Be compassionate, legalize marijuana for medical purposes.” Susie was photographed carrying the sign by another Oliver Wendell Holmes student who worked on the school newspaper. The picture of Susie, with the sign, was published in the school paper. Principal Pat Strickland saw the picture and after a brief meeting with Susie and her parents, suspended Susie from school for ten days pursuant to a school policy that allows suspension for students who “use, advocate or promote the use of any illegal drug at a school function.” Susie and her parents appealed the suspension to the South Bay County School District, which upheld the suspension.As a result of the suspension, Susie claims to have suffered ridicule and harassment from other students and faculty, causing great emotional damage. She also claims that as a result of her suspension, her grades have suffered and this may have a long-term effect of jeopardizing her college choices.Susie has filed a lawsuit in federal district court claiming a violation of her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.Now, answer the following:1. Did the school district have the right to suspend Susie for her action?2. Assuming that the school district was not justified in its actions, does Susie have a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983?Your boss at the law firm recommends you look at Morse v. Frederick and Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, both United States Supreme Court cases (located in your textbook). You can use any other sources you believe are relevant and applicable. Don’t forget to check your citations both for accuracy and to make sure you are using good law.

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