A Florida statute authorized limited corporal punishment for disciplining students in public schools. Dade County schools allowed students to be paddled on the buttocks using a flat wooden paddle. James Ingraham and Roosevelt Andrews (plaintiffs), two students at a public junior high in Dade County, received severe paddlings as punishment for bad behavior. The students were not given notice or an opportunity to be heard prior to receiving that corporal punishment. The students brought suit against principal Willie Wright, other school officials, and the superintendent of Dade County schools (defendants), arguing that the paddlings they received violated their constitutional rights. The district court dismissed the complaint, and the appellate court affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.