Edward MANN, et al., Appellants
Hubbard Exempted Village School District Board of Education, et al., Appellees

No. 2331

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District
Trumbull County

June 21, 1976

This cause came on to be heard upon the record in the Trial Court, and was briefed and argued by counsel for the parties. Upon consideration whereof, this Court finds no error prejudicial to the appellant and, therefore, the judgment of the Trial Court is affirmed. Each assignment of error was reviewed and upon review the following disposition was made:

This is an appeal from a judgment of the Common Pleas Court of Trumbull County upholding the dress code of the Hubbard Exempted Village School District as to the permitted length of boys' hair.

The appellant has filed the following four assigments of error:

"I. The Court erred in determining the hair length regulations of the Hubbard Exempted Village Board of Education are necessary for the government of the employees, pupils, and other persons entering apon school grounds, within the meaning of R. C. 3313.20 and are within the powers and authority of the Board to promulgate.

"II. The Court erred in determining that personal taste of the School Board outweighs the interest of high school students and their parents in regulating the appearance of school students.

"III. The Court erred in determining that freedom of high school students to choose a hair style is not a fundamental right protected under the Constitutions of Ohio and the United States.

"IV. The decision of the trial court was against the manifest weight of the evidence."

The assignments of error are without merit.

The appellee, Board of Education, adopted a dress code regulation for the Hubbard Schools which included personal grooming provisions. The provision of the code at issue in instant case states in pertinent part:

"D. Hair must not be extreme in length, must be off the eyes, and may extend to the base of the ear and the base of the collar."

Section 3313.20 of the Revised Code states in pertinent part:

"The board of education shall make such rules and regulations as are necessary for its government and the government of its employees, pupils of its schools, and all other persons entering upon its school grounds or premises. . . ."

We are of the opinion that the hair length provision of the dress code in the instant case does not deprive a student of any constitutional right and the provision was not unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious and that there was a rational basis for the provision when considered in light of functions and purpose of the school. We agree with the United States Court of Appeals (Sixth Circuit) in Gfell v. Rickelman, 441 F.2d 444 (1971) when the court stated at pages 446 and 447 of its opinion:

"In the instant case the District Court found that there was a reasonable relationship between the rule adopted by West Geauga High School and the maintenance of discipline, promotion of safety in certain courses, and the furtherance of valid educational purposes, including the teaching of grooming discipline, and etiquette. . . . . ."

The Supreme Court of Ohio in McClung v. Board of Education (1976), 46 Ohio St.2d 149 stated at page 155 of its opinion:

"It may well be that the Washington Senior High School grooming guidelines are necessary to promote discipline, to maintain order, to secure the safety of the pupils, and to provide a healthy environment conducive to academic purposes. Certainly the governing school authorities in this state should be accorded wide latitude in the day-to-day administration of our academic institutions. . . . . ."

The transcript of proceedings in the instant case indicates that the dress code is a part of the learning process in that it teaches the students grooming, etiquette, discipline and the need to live by rules and regulations of society. In addition, the transcript supports the proposition that a reasonable dress code has a good effect upon the health, safety and well being of the students.

In our opinion, these benefits of a dress code are in furtherance of valid educational purposes and this conclusion is supported by the record before us.

Courts should not interfere with the authority of boards of education, nor substitute their judgment upon those matters delegated to said boards, unless there is a showing of fraud, abuse of discretion, arbitrariness, or unreasonableness (State, ex rel. Milhoof v. Board of Education, 76 Ohio St. 297; Board of Education v. Wiclmm, 80 Ohio St. 133; Brannon v. Board of Education, 99 Ohio St. 369; Greco v. Roper, Ilt5 Ohio St. 243; 18 Ohio App.2d 101; and !A-iorken v. Cleveland Board of Education, 63 Ohio L.Abs. 10).

There is no evidence in the record before us to establish the only legal grounds which would permit this court to intervene with the rule making power of the board of education.

Our conclusion is that the Board of Education of Hubbard Exempted Village School District acted within the scope of their authority in adopting a dress code; that the provision of said code dealing with hair length for the boys is not unreasonable or arbitrary; that the regulations were uniformly applied to the boys in the school; that the enforcement of these regulations will not deprive the appellants of any substantial rights; that the enforcement of this rule will not result in any irreparable injury to the appellants; and that this court has no authority to interfere with the discretion vested in the school authorities in this particular school matter.

Judgment affirmed.