1968 February 29

Police Fingerprint New Jersey Students in High School Shop Class


Shop class students at Kearny High School in Hudson County, New Jersey, were all fingerprinted by the police. The Hudson County Chapter of the ACLU condemned the fingerprinting as “shocking and unconscionable.” The fingerprinting was reportedly prompted by a recent fire at the school.  There was evidently no individualized suspicion for any of the students fingerprinted.

Public school student activism in the 1960s involved a number of civil liberties issues; freedom of speech, due process in disciplinary actions, hair style and clothing, and searches and seizures.

On January 28, 1969 the New York City High School Principals Association issued a report claiming that student challenges to school rules were taking the schools “down the road to anarchism.”

The most famous students’ rights case involved Mary Beth Tinker who was suspended from school in Des Moines for wearing an anti-Vietnam War arm band to school. Her case went to the Supreme Court, which on February 24, 1969, in Tinker v. Des Moines, established the First Amendment rights of public school students.

Learn more about students’ rights today: ACLU, Handbook of Students Rights. Find it here.

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