Case Background

In the case of Yoo v. Moynihan, a student sued the chairman of the board of education and the student’s high school principal for an injunction forbidding them from denying him the right to a public high school education. In law, an injunction is a court order that keeps a person or organization from beginning or continuing an action threatening or invading the rights of another. An injunction can also be used to compel a party to carry out a specific action. In the case at hand, the student brought action in hopes that the injunction would prevent the school board and principal from following through with their decision to suspend him.

The student alleged he had been temporarily suspended or permanently expelled because of the length of his hair, contrary to Conn. Const. art. 1, § 9 and the U.S. Constitution. The student was called to the office of the dean of boys about a failure to attend a class, and on that occasion the vice principal told the student in effect that unless he had his hair cut shorter he could not attend school. He was also told at that time that his clothing and the style thereof should be altered.

He returned to the school to see the principal and the administrative assistant in charge of attendance, at which time he agreed to their suggested changes in his attire. They remained adamant that before he could return to school he must cut his hair, which he would not do. The principle argued the student was not suspended or expelled, but excluded and in the practice of sending a pupil home until a condition has been corrected.

The Court’s Decision

The court found in favor of the student. A board of education may establish regulations authorizing its staff of the school to suspend pupils to enforce discipline. However, no suspension protocol was followed, because the specific reason for the suspension and time period was not set. The court did not find the student’s hair length to be a disciplinary problem. The student’s hairstyle fell within his right of self-expression and privacy, and was infringed by the board’s demands. Therefore, the court issued a temporary injunction forbidding the school from denying the student the right and opportunity for a public high school education.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any education matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at