Palmer v. Merluzzi

868 F.2d 90 (1989)

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Palmer v. Merluzzi

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
868 F.2d 90 (1989)

EL

Facts

Dan Palmer (plaintiff), a high school varsity football player, received a 10-day school suspension due to his use of drugs and alcohol while performing a school assignment. The school’s student handbook stated that student alcohol or drug use could result in a 10-day school suspension. The school’s athletic-program policy statement indicated that the right to participate in school athletics was limited to students who demonstrated good school citizenship. Palmer was summoned to meet with his coach and the school disciplinarian. The coach and disciplinarian informed Palmer of his potential school suspension but not of a possible athletic suspension. Palmer admitted his drug and alcohol use and was given the opportunity to explain himself. The school disciplinarian mailed a letter to Palmer’s parents notifying them of Palmer’s 10-day school suspension. Later, school officials met to discuss a possible 60-day football suspension for Palmer. Palmer’s father approached the board of education at a hearing and expressed his concerns about the proposed football suspension. The board of education refused to intervene, and the superintendent imposed a 60-day football suspension following Palmer’s 10-day school suspension. Palmer appealed to the state commissioner of education. An administrative-law judge held an evidentiary hearing and then ruled that the subsequent athletic suspension required additional due-process protections. The commissioner of education overturned the administrative-law judge’s decision on appeal and determined Palmer had received sufficient due process for both suspensions. Palmer sued the superintendent and board of education (collectively, the school system) (defendants) in federal district court, claiming that he was deprived of the opportunity to play football without due process. The district court granted the school system’s motion for summary judgment, deciding that the process afforded Palmer for both suspensions was sufficient. Palmer appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stapleton, J.)

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