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Court: no right to bathroom break

January 13, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A former high school student who says his rights were violated when a teacher refused to let him leave class and go to the bathroom lost a Supreme Court appeal today.

The justices, without comment, refused to revive Jerry Boyett’s lawsuit against school officials in Crenshaw County, Ala.

Boyett’s appeal to the nation’s highest court had advanced an unusual argument: Public school students have a constitutional right to go to the bathroom during class hours.

The appeal added that teachers have no discretion to refuse a student’s request to be excused from class for that purpose.

Three Alabama courts previously ruled against Boyett.

He was a senior at Luverne High School when in 1993 Boyett was denied permission to leave a classroom to visit the restroom.

His lawsuit contended that Boyett was suffering from diarrhea that day, but Lalar Tomberlin, the teacher who refused to excuse him from the room, testified that there was no indication that Boyett was under duress.

Boyett’s lawyer said all public school students have a ``right to use the restroom when needed, and this right must surely be a liberty interest in ... bodily integrity.″

``Denial of this right plainly constitutes a violation of (a student’s) privacy and an unlawful restriction of his freedom from humiliation and embarrassment,″ the appeal said.

The case is Boyett vs. Tomberlin, 96-707.

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