Gorman file

Gorman file - Supreme Court No. 2003-371-Appeal. (PC...

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Supreme Court No. 2003-371-Appeal. (PC 01-4821) Russell Gorman, Jr. et al. : v. : St. Raphael Academy. : NOTICE : This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the Rhode Island Reporter. Readers are requested to notify the Opinion Analyst, Supreme Court of Rhode Island, 250 Benefit Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, at Telephone 222- 3258 of any typographical or other formal errors in order that corrections may be made before the opinion is published.
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- 1 - Supreme Court No. 2003-371-Appeal. (PC 01-4821) Russell Gorman, Jr. et al. : v. : St. Raphael Academy. : Present: Williams, C.J., Flanders, Goldberg, and Suttell, JJ. O P I N I O N Suttell, Justice. By all accounts, Russell Gorman III is an exemplary student at Saint Raphael Academy. During his freshman year, he was an honors student, incurred no disciplinary infractions, played freshman basketball, and was a member of the Ambassador’s Club, in which he would help out with open house and visit middle schools, literally, as an ambassador for Saint Raphael. Yet, in his second or third week of school, he faced expulsion — his only offense being the length of his hair. 1 Unwilling to trim his locks and unable to untangle the disciplinary snarl with school officials, Russell and his parents filed a breach of contract action against Saint Raphael. The Superior Court granted a preliminary injunction, and eventually a permanent injunction, restraining and enjoining the school from suspending, expelling, or otherwise disciplining Russell from wearing his hair so that it falls below the bottom of his shirt collar. The trial justice found the school’s hair-length rule to be arbitrary on its face because it bore no rational relationship with the mission statement of Saint Raphael’s. We reverse the judgment of the Superior Court. Because Saint Raphael is a private school and accorded by law wide latitude in 1 Russell Gorman wears his hair in a mullet style, where his hair is closely cropped on the top and sides of his head, but six to eight inches below his shirt collar in the back.
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- 2 - promulgating its own rules, regulations and codes of conduct and, further, because there has been no showing that the hair-length regulation is against any law or public policy, we hold that the regulation is a lawful and enforceable term of the school’s educational contract with its students and their parents. Facts and Travel Saint Raphael Academy (Saint Raphael) is a Catholic, coeducational, college preparatory school for grades 9-12 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Saint Raphael has almost 500 students and is operated by the Brothers of the Christian Schools with almost sixty lay faculty and staff members. It traces its educational tradition and mission to 1679, when John Baptist de La Salle opened his first school in Reims, France. As described in the student handbook, the Lasallian heritage is to address the educational needs of an economically diverse student body in a manner that is imbued with Christian spiritual values. In the fall of 2000, plaintiff, Russell Gorman III (Russell), applied for admission to Saint
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Gorman file - Supreme Court No. 2003-371-Appeal. (PC...

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