Friday, September 29, 2023
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No Protected Right to Access School Grounds

CHICAGO (CN) - A teenager who was ticketed for trespass after picking up friends from the school that expelled him did not have a protected right to access public school grounds, the 7th Circuit ruled.

In 2005-06, Derek Hanneman was a ninth-grade student at Southern Door County High School in Wisconsin.

One day Hanneman brought a knife on the school bus, against the school's weapons policy. He was expelled for the year, but permitted to return the following school year.

In 2007, the assistant principal called Hanneman's father for a meeting after learning that the student's backpack was inscribed with the statement: "Only one bullet left, no one to kill but myself."

When Hanneman came out of the meeting, visibly upset, he ran into Principal Lois Mahaffey, the school principal at the time. The school gave Hanneman a disciplinary referral after the meeting for violating its policy against intimidation by clenching his fists and breathing heavily.

Later, Hanneman grabbed another student by the collar and said, "I am going to kick your ass. Stop writing in my locker."

Hannemann was permanently expelled for these incidents, but the state superintendent reversed his expulsion because the time frame of the alleged conduct was imprecise

While Hannemann did not choose to return to Southern Door County High, he continued to use the weight room and drive onto school grounds to pick up friends.

When a teacher saw Hanneman in the weight room and told him to leave, Hanneman became confrontational and punched a locker. The school then informed Hanneman that if he entered school grounds again, it would be considered a trespass.

Hanneman sued the school district, alleging that his ban from school property without a hearing deprived him of his rights to due process and intrastate travel.

A federal judge sided with the school on summary judgment, and the 7th Circuit affirmed Thursday.

"Southern Door County School District allows the public to enter school property for specific purposes while retaining the authority to bar individual members of the public for reasons specific to them," Judge Joel Flaum wrote for a three-judge panel. "Because the school district retains the discretion to bar members of the public from school property, Hanneman is unable to establish the loss of a previously recognized right."

Flaum also agreed with the lower court that "the right to intrastate travel does not allow one to travel anywhere and everywhere within Wisconsin at his or her pleasure."

"Hannemann has not alleged that the ban inhibits his ability to move from place to place within Door County," he wrote. "He has not alleged that the only way to get from one location to another is to traverse school property, nor has he alleged that the ban prevents him from accessing substantial portions of the county. The absence of such allegations signals that Hannemann's claim is not properly characterized as an infringement of his right to intrastate travel."

"We are not prepared to recognize a right for members of the public to loiter on school grounds," Flaum added.

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