Watson v. Cambridge

157 Mass. 561 (1893)

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Watson v. Cambridge

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
157 Mass. 561 (1893)

Facts

John Watson (plaintiff) was excluded from attending public school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, because the municipal school committee (the committee) (defendant) determined that he was too “weak-minded” to benefit from instruction. The school committee later allowed Watson to attend school on a two-week-trial basis and after that period excluded him from attendance again. The committee made this decision based on evidence presented by teachers and physicians who reported that Watson was disruptive to the classroom and other students, unable mentally to benefit from school, and unable to take physical care of himself. Watson brought a claim to court seeking to be admitted to school. The committee asked the court to determine that if its decision to exclude Watson was based on true facts and made in good faith, the decision was not subject to judicial review. The court refused to make that determination and submitted to the jury the question of whether the facts proved that Watson was actually a serious disturbance to the school. The committee entered exceptions to the court’s decision to put the matter to a jury, and the exceptions came before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Knowlton, J.)

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