First Advisor

Charles M. White

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.)






High school students -- Legal status, High school students -- Legal status -- Oregon



Physical Description

1 online resource (130 pages)


The United States Bill of Rights guarantees American citizens’ personal freedom and at the same time places limitations on the actions of the various levels of government. Questions arise in regards to the age at which citizens are guaranteed rights and freedoms under the Bill of Rights. The young American citizen, in a public school, has not always enjoyed the exercise of the rights of American citizenship. This paper examines the current status of the rights of public high school students, specifically in the State of Oregon.

First to determine just which rights do apply in Oregon High Schools, court decisions, primarily from federal courts, were examined in order to extract the current judicial definitions of civil rights and liberties. As a result of this research, it was found that high school students are guaranteed the First Amendment rights of free expression and the Fourteenth Amendment privileges of due process or fair procedures in civil actions involving the school administration. The Fourth Amendment has been the basis of numerous cases dealing with locker searches and seizures, but the courts have held that the guarantees of the Fourth Amendment do not apply in light of the special circumstances of the school environment.

Secondly, the status of the these student rights in the Oregon public school systems was examined by studying the state guidelines for student conduct codes and individual district codes from the 1971-72 and 1972-73 school years. It was concluded that as of 1972-73, most of Oregon’s high school students are guaranteed the rights that have been judicially defined as applying to high school students; this guarantee, at the local school district level, came about as a result of new Oregon Revised Statutes and new Oregon Board of Education policy.

Third, the attitudes of high school students and principals towards student rights were polled and tallied. The results show that though both groups are not aware of all current judicial definitions, the students are more in accord with the courts decisions and current legal interpretations than are the principals.

As a result, it is concluded that young Oregonians in public high schools are guaranteed rights under the United States Constitution; and with the advent of detailed rights and responsibilities codes in the local school districts, students are now allowed to exercise their rights in most Oregon high schools. The majority of students are aware of their rights, thus providing a situation in which students can function socially and politically as much as they would if they were out of high school.


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