The Full Collection of Justice in Schools Case Studies

Cases For:

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School Leaders

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Case School Level:

High School
Higher Education

dim sum

A group of parents in Hong Kong considers which type of schooling will best prepare their children for the future. What responsibilities do they have to their children—and to Hong Kong society?

boy working on a laptop

In this case study, Arlington, VA, faced criticism from teachers and parents when the district announced a plan to make homework more equitable by eliminating deadlines and other requirements. How should schools address inequities in the resources available to students when it comes to homework completion?

Corporate sponsorships in schools can provide many benefits for students and teachers, but they also come with costs. In this case from Australia, a high school principal must decide how to lead his school through the sponsorship evaluation process while respecting community stakeholders’ fears and responding to students' climate future concerns. 

anti-vax rally

Conspiracy theories play an increasingly central and problematic role in political debates in liberal democracies around the world. In this case from Germany, teachers struggle to both support a high school student deeply immersed in conspiracy theories and counteract the negative effects these theories have on other students. 

teens pointing at laptop

A pair of seventh graders in Madrid take a topless photo of a female classmate and forward it to the rest of the class over the weekend. What responsibilities and limitations does the school have to discipline students for out-of-school behavior? 


Online learning can offer many educational benefits for both students and teachers, but how much online learning is too much? In this case from Germany, should the principal apply for a funding program that would put half the curriculum online, or has the pandemic taught us to be more wary of the risks and pitfalls of education on the web?


Should a student who skipped school be allowed to make up missing work? This case explores dilemmas that arise when academic consequences are linked to behavioral infractions. How can schools discourage dangerous behavior without endangering learning?

computer with Zoom boxes

This case from the Netherlands explores the challenges of organizing a safe space for discussion in the online civics classroom. Should teachers refrain from inviting students to share their opinions, feelings and concerns online because they cannot guarantee student safety?

American flag

After introducing a project-based civics curriculum in which students take action to create change, a school leader faces pushback from parents and disagreement about the purpose of civic education from teachers. How should schools respond when civic education becomes a divisive issue in the community?

College Campus

This case examines the influence of family wealth on college admissions in the wake of the 2019 college admissions bribery scandal. Bribery is plainly unethical, but what is the moral status of other instances where families spend money to help their children secure spots at selective colleges?


men praying

In this case study, a principal in Canada faces a firestorm when he allows students in his majority-Muslim school to conduct Friday prayers in the school cafeteria. In the public school system of a multicultural democracy, where is the line between accommodating diversity and endorsing religion? 

Picking battles

This case presents an opportunity for educators and administrators to open up dialogue on the matter of guns in school, with emphasis on the question of arming teachers. 



This case explores the challenges of teaching about climate change in a community where a large portion of the residents work in the petroleum industry. How far should educators accomodate local concerns when teaching science?

School Choice

Many well-resourced parents face a dilemma in choosing a school for their child. Should they opt for their local public school, investing their resources into the public system, or use those resources to send their child to whatever school they think will benefit them the most?

Classroom Management and Discipline

How should a teacher balance the needs of a disruptive student against the needs of the other 26 students in the class? This is a micro-normative case study.


Underqualified and Overwhelmed

For months, college students who run an after-school program have struggled to manage the challenging behaviors of a child with disabilities. As volunteers with no special education credentials and little training, can and should they continue to work with this student?

The School Culture Committee at a K-8 school in Jersey City struggles with the impact of divisive political rhetoric on their classroom and school community.

Straying from the Flock: Sex Education and Parental Rights

After a student approaches her with a sexual health question, a health educator must decide whether or not to answer the student's question against the wishes of her parents.

Student Transgressions: Gender Identity and Student Support

A student in a conservative school district appears to be experimenting with their gender identity. Can the needs of the child be balanced against prevailing community norms? Should they?

Urban Schools

In designing a new school assignment plan, is it ethical to pander to middle class families’ preferences so as to draw them, and their social and economic capital, into the public system?


Punishing Choices

A teacher grapples with when corporal punishment crosses the line into child abuse and whether or not reporting her suspicions is the right decision in either case.

Standardized Testing

A school principal is asked to respond to growing numbers of parents opting their children out of state tests. How should she balance these parents’ concerns with other parent viewpoints supporting assessment, her own professional obligations, as well as with district and state accountability pressures?

Grade Inflation and Teaching: The Private School Market Place

How should a school maintain professional integrity with respect to their grading policy against, while balancing commitments to student learning, student success in college admissions, and school success in the private school marketplace?



In 2011, government schools in New South Wales, Australia began offering philosophy based ethics courses as an alternative to courses in religious education. This case probes the ensuing debate and surveys the diversity of ethical claims made by supporters and detractors of both options.

Politics, Partisanship, and Pedagogy

While planning for their Power of Persuasion project, the Northern High 10th Grade social studies team debates what topics are appropriately controversial for school and what topics endanger safe and inclusive classroom spaces.

Assessing Student Performance

Teachers debate whether or not to promote an eighth grader who has made great strides academically in the face of numerous personal struggles, but who is also failing multiple courses and reading well below grade-level.

Holding the Trump Card

Teachers wrestle with how to teach the controversial issues and topics raised during the 2016 election.

Student Walkouts

This case explores the dilemmas that emerge when students in Portland, Oregon walk out of school to protest the election of Donald Trump.


Open Classroom

Should teachers allow a religious student to pursue a citizenship project that argues against gay marriage?

The Job Search: Teaching for Social Justice

Towards the end of her Masters in Teaching, a preservice teacher grapples with whether or not to accept a job offer to teach at an urban charter school and discusses what it means to teach for social justice with a group of her colleagues.


harvard admissions

Should all of a young person's online history be open for scrutiny by admissions officers? How should admissions officers acknowledge that students are in the process of development?

Sealing Off Central High: Social Media Policy in Schools

A group of teachers and administrators grapple with how to discipline a student who posted a nasty meme on a classmates social media feed. Should sharing a violent meme be treated differently than other violent speech?