Student suing school will have his day in court

\nOREGON – In a ruling that could have broad implications for\nstudents who sue their schools, an appeals court denied a school\ndistrict’s motion to dismiss the appeal of a high school student\nwho graduated while his lawsuit against the district was pending.

The Bend-La Pine School District argued that Chris Pangle’s\nsuit against the district should be dismissed because he had graduated\nand there was no longer an ongoing conflict between the parties.

But Jonathan Hoffman, Pangle’s attorney, maintained that because\nPangle was seeking retrospective relief-he was suing the school\ndistrict for past acts it had committed against him-the case was\nstill relevant.

The Oregon Court of Appeals sided with Pangle. Pangle v.\nBend-La Pine School District, Nos. 97-CV-0316-AB, 97-CV-0143-AB\n(Or.Ct.App.filed May 27, 1999).

Mark Goodman, the executive director of the Student Press Law\nCenter, said the court made the right decision.

“Given the brief time students are in school and how slow\ncourt cases progress, it’s crucial that students’ cases not be\nconsidered moot the moment they graduate,” Goodman said.\n”To do so would have the effect of making students’ constitutional\nrights meaningless.”

Pangle is suing the school district in an effort to have his\ndisciplinary record expunged. In 1997, Pangle was expelled from\nMountain View High School for distributing an underground newspaper\nthat was critical of school authorities. (See Spring 1998 Report,\npage 24.)\n