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Russell Gorman, Jr. et al.
St. Raphael Academy.
Present: Williams, C.J., Flanders, Goldberg, and Suttell, JJ.
O P I N I O N
By all accounts, Russell Gorman III is an exemplary student at Saint
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
Yet, in his second or third week of school, he faced expulsion — his only offense
being the length of his hair.
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.
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
Because Saint Raphael is a private school and accorded by law wide latitude in
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.