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Question for the interview of administrative representatives

North Middlesex Regional High School



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

Yes I Do

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

I think our students have a right to receive an education, safety in their school environment, respect.

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

At some level they build on democracy, public education is based on democracy, teaching people with respect and teaching them to use their rights. It's part of the democratic process. Yes we do deny them rights, but it builds upon their education. If we didn’t do so we wouldn’t be able to provide a safe education.


4. 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?

Without reviewing the case in greater detail, I can’t say. The Handbook protects personal expression, students have the ability to express their opinions in a fashion that does not disrupt the school. Students are responsible for anything that disrupts school. Recently we had students wear ribbons for sadd and that was allowed because it didn't disrupt school. Our students have the ability to express themselves, so long as they do not affect the educational process.

Peter Dobrowolski

Dean of Students; North Middlesex Regional High School