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Question for the interview of administrative representatives

Groton Dunstable Regional High School


1. Do you feel that your school protects the constitutional rights of your students effectively?

With respect to the Constitution and the school, do you drop the Constitution at the door? I think sometimes given the context of a public school and considering safety factor of students sometime constitutional rights are denied as they are in society.

2. What do you define as the rights your students have?

The right to learn in a safe environment.

3. How do these rights compare to those found in the Bill of Rights?

We deny constitutional right to bear arms, but for protecting majority. Freedom of speech and press and due process are respected with in this school community. Above all because your dealing with kids and school you use fairness and the ruleboook, to deal with each situation differently. Give more and restrict rights by individual cases, those that can be responsible have more rights.

  1. Are you familiar with the supreme court case Tinker V. Des Moines?

(go over these facts from the case)

December 1965 as a protest against the Vietnam war, students along with their parents decided on Dec. 16 and New Year's Eve they would wear black armbands. On Dec. 14 the school stated that any student wearing an armband would be asked to remove it or be suspended. The students were suspended. The courts favored the side of the school in the lower courts.

The Supreme Court 7:2 stated that the student's rights had been violated.

"It can hardly argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or the expression at the schoolhouse gate... On the other hand, the Court has repeatedly emphasized the need for affirming the comprehensive authority of the States and of school officials, consistent with fundamental constitutional safeguards, to prescribe and control conduct in the schools...."

"If a regulation were adopted by the school officials forbidding discussion of the Vietnam conflict, or the expression by any student of opposition to it anywhere on school property except as part of a prescribed classroom exercise, it would be obvious that the regulation would materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school"

"In our system, students may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the state chooses to communicate. They may not be confined to the expression of those sentiments that are officially approved.

"the wearing of armbands in the circumstances of this case was entirely divorced from actually or potentially disruptive conduct by those participating in it. It was closely akin to 'pure speech' which, we have repeatedly held, is entitled to comprehensive protection under the First Amendment."

5. Does the student handbook follow the guidelines set by this case?

I don't know... but certainly I think kids have worn things promoting, rainbow coalition as a demonstration of belief.  Rainbow coalition is a group supporting gay rights, we've had no problem with them in our school, along with other groups.

Richard Arena: social studies teacher student council advisor; Groton-Dunstable High School