Education

School Board Reprimands Teacher for Telling Students About Their Right to Remain Silent

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Yesterday John Dryden, the Illinois teacher who warned his students that they did not have to answer questions about alcohol and drug use on a survey distributed by their high school, got a warning of his own. The Kane County Chronicle reports that the Batavia School Board voted to issue "a written warning of improper conduct" to Dryden, who also was docked a day's pay. Batavia School Superintendent Jack Barshinger explained Dryden's offense this way:

In this case, district teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, psychologists and others worked together for over a year to select a data-gathering instrument that could be used to determine what social or emotional issues our high school students are experiencing, and whether individual students could benefit from new or increased supportive intervention by our staff. These purposes were shared with our parents and our teachers.

The issue before the board was whether one employee has the right to mischaracterize the efforts of our teachers, counselors, social workers and others; and tell our students, in effect, that the adults are not here to help, but that they are trying to get you to "incriminate" yourselves.

Barshinger seems to think it is inconceivable that there could be anything wrong with the survey, since people with good intentions worked on it for "over a year." Yet the survey forms that Dryden picked up from his mailbox 10 minutes before his first class on April 18 not only asked about illegal behavior; they had students' names on them, thereby destroying any assurance of confidentiality. Even if the people who selected the survey were not trying to get students to incriminate themselves, that was the inevitable result if students who had broken the law by drinking or using illegal drugs answered the questions candidly. What guarantee did they have that their answers would not be used against them, if only to pressure them into accepting the "supportive intervention" deemed appropriate by the school? As Ronald Reagan was fond of saying, much damage can be caused by people from the government who are "here to help."

"These kids need to know that the U.S. Constitution is there for them," Batavia Alderman Alan Wolff told the school board yesterday, referring to the Fifth Amendment's ban on compelled self-incrimination, which Dryden mentioned as he distributed the survey forms. Another Batavia High School teacher, Scott Bayer, said Dryden was not alone in thinking it was important to let students know they were not obligated to answer the questions if doing so involved admitting crimes. "Every teacher I talked to addressed students in the same way," he said. Perhaps we can expect more written warnings of improper conduct.   

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81 responses to “School Board Reprimands Teacher for Telling Students About Their Right to Remain Silent

  1. It’s better to gather data on children than to educate them. An informed citizen is seldom a good citizen.

    1. Psh! An informed citizen can be the BEST citizen. You mean they aren’t OBEDIENT citizens.

      1. An informed upon citizen is the best kind.

    2. before I looked at the bank draft 4 $8766, I accept …that…my father in law could realy bringing home money part time on their apple laptop.. there neighbour had bean doing this for under 7 months and recently repaid the dept on there condo and purchased a brand new Ford. read more at, Click Here

  2. Let the lawsuits begin.

  3. The dude abides.

    1. +1 I take some comfort in that.

    2. All the Dude ever wanted… were his rights back…

      1. I just want to understand this, sir. Every time an amendment is micturated upon in this fair country, I have to compensate the owner?

        1. We know about the fucking Constitution, you, you… you human paraquat!

    3. It tied the Constitution together so well.

  4. The issue before the board was whether one employee has the right to mischaracterize the efforts of our teachers, counselors, social workers and others; and tell our students, in effect, that the adults are not here to help, but that they are trying to get you to “incriminate” yourselves.

    Right.

    “We’re just looking out for your best interests, son. Watch your head.”

    1. mischaracterize

      it’s Orwell’s world, we are just living in it.

  5. “Every teacher I talked to addressed students in the same way,” he said. Perhaps we can expect more written warnings of improper conduct.

    Good – back when I substituted there (1994-1995) they seemed like a good bunch – it is the admin pukes who are screwy, not the decent teachers I remembered.

    1. And since admins outnumber faculty in most schools now…I’m guessing things will get much worse.

    2. it is the admin pukes who are screwy

      Probably true of every school in the country. There is no class of person more useless and simultaneously ego maniacal than a school administrator. They’re basically like politicians, but even more incompetent.

      1. It’s another prime outlet for paternalist arrogance. They’re not actually teachers, but damn it they know precisely how children ought to be taught.

      2. If admins are so inefficient and incompetent, then school choice should lead to fewer of them. Yet teachers tend to oppose school choice.

        Does that mean that teachers don’t really believe that the increasing number of administrators is an inefficient thing?

        1. Bingo.

          This is the system teachers want, so my sympathy range is effectively zero.

        2. The problem is that school choice might also lead to fewer (or at the least, different) teachers.

        3. Many teachers wish to graduate to administrator status.

          So they spend half their time engaged in office politics, and the other half pursuing bullshit “higher education” degrees – paid for by the taxpayer – to “qualify” them for a promotion.

          Teachers hate admins like career minor leaguers hate GM’s. Sure, they bitch all the time, but if teams were going to fold and there were going to be less GM’s, they’d completely freak out, because that would cut down their scope for overcompensated advancement based on non-accomplishment.

          1. Right on.

            And another thing: if this is not what teachers want, then where is his union on this? Oh yeah fucking right.

          2. The worthless law school in my college town was driven by teachers who went back to get easy degrees. A “juris doctor” counted as a “doctorate” for advancement purposes. They would never take the bar, and would just do night classes, where they would be judged by a lower standard. It was a complete racket, with mutual understanding on both the “buyer” and “seller” side of things.

  6. Sounds like that unrepentant school board is begging for a lawsuit for violating the teacher’s First Amendment right to inform his students of their Fifth Amendment rights.

    1. Your rights end the minute you step onto government property. I think that’s the current argument they’re going with.

      1. I’m actually more surprised none of these asshats has tried to say the kids don’t have a fifth amendment right not to incriminate themselves. After all, if they had been vested with their rights already they wouldn’t be in prison, would they?

    2. Only if someone is willing to take it pro bono. A day’s pay just is not that much to get arsed over damages-wise.

      1. Punitive damages.

        Against the individuals who on the school board, not the school district.

        1. The individuals on the school board are probably covered by some kind of immunity and indemnity as well.

          1. Veils can always be pierced.

      2. I think such a lawsuit would seek punitive damages for violating rights, both of the teacher and the students, in an attempt to change the behavior of the school board, and not be about the day’s pay.

    3. It’s not a 1A infringement to fire someone for saying something the employer doesn’t like. I mean Coke can certainly fire an employee who goes around touting Pepsi products, for example. I mean, it would be stupid to reprimand an apparently good teacher like this, but not an infringement of his rights.

      1. Government is held to a different standard than private enterprise.

        Which is another reason why we shouldnt have government schools at all.

      2. It would be very hard for a public employer to prove that it’s got a legitimate managerial interest in restraining the ability of an employee to truthfully advise a client of the state service of their constitutional rights.

        It would be like a police department firing a cop for reading a suspect their Miranda rights. That’s not Coke and Pepsi any more.

        1. Ah, but this teacher is not properly trained to be giving such advice. He’s not a lawyer. What if his advice is wrong? The state has every interest in preventing its teachers from giving legal advice.

          Best solution, of course, is to privatize all schools, like robc says above.

          1. It wasn’t written for the lawyers to be treated as a special class of interpreter, anymore than the inclusion of ‘the press’ in 1A means a licensed class of special operatives are given exclusive privilege of written speech.

  7. More bureaucratic arrogance. Batavia School Superintendent Jack Barshinger deserves to be fired since he’s so uneducated that he doesn’t know, or understand, the 5th Amendment…

    1. I am afraid it is you who doesn’t know or understand the Fifth – it holds that persons can’t be compelled to be witnesses against themselves without due process of law.

      Top. Men. worked for a year to come up with this survey, do you think they didn’t have a best-practices process and an action plan and buy-in from all the relevant stakeholders for engaging students in this inquiry-based learning paradigm? If that’s not Due Process then I don’t know what is.

      If it saves just one child, isn’t it worth over-riding the Constitution? Why do you hate the children?

  8. “Abandon Hope Your Constitutional Rights, All Ye Who Enter Here.”

  9. people with good intentions

    Run away, do not look back!

  10. The real question to me is why were the names of the survey-takers on there? That seems like an excellent way to get very little useful data. Perhaps the point was to ensure low reporting so the school could tout how “clean” its students are.

    1. In the original story I read yesterday, it was explained that the survey was for school-internal purposes. They actually wanted the guidance counselors and social workers and whoever else reading through all the responses so they could go grab little Johnny Smith who said he tried pot for the first time this year so they could have an intervention, or little Logan Jones who said she had scary thought about cutting herself, etc.

      1. A girl named Logan? What’s next? A boy named Sue?

      2. And no doubt involve the police if they fear the kid’s safety might be at stake. But there’s no danger of the kids incriminating themselves. That’s crazy talk.

        1. In another article they used the excuse that the police can’t legally use any of the information to arrest kids. I’m sure they could just have a little sit-down with them, though, right? Have a little chat in the SRO’s office? Maybe a “random” locker search or two?

          1. the police can’t legally use any of the information to arrest kids.

            Since when did that stop them?

          2. At most, they cannot use any of the information to convict kids. Which is not the same as arresting them.

            1. I believe it’s even more nuanced than that. They can’t use that information in court.

              They doesn’t mean they won’t use it to intimidate the kid into accepting a plea bargain.

              1. According to the Superintendent they would be protected under the student privacy laws and could not be used to arrest or prosecute students. Maybe so, though I’m not inclined to take his word for it. But even if he’s right, there are many ways the information could easily be abused by law enforcement and administrators to target specific students.

        2. And no doubt involve the police if they fear the kid’s safety might be at stake.

          And this is a catch-all.

          When I was in HS in the early ’80’s my parents had me placed into drug counseling at school. There were only a few other people there and they were all acquaintances, if not friends. The first thing the counselor says is that nothing said will leave the room unless we think your life is in danger. Not surprisingly, they considered smoking pot life endangering because it always leads to heroin overdose and death, or something.

          I actually exaggerated my drug use to impress my friends. It wasn’t until after my intervention and treatment that I found out how full of shit the counselors were.

          1. unless we think feel your life is in danger.

            ftfy

            Thinking means actually engaging the brain.

    2. I doubt it. That’s how results oriented people think. These people only understand intentions.

    3. If the questionnaire was done via email it would be called phishing.

      Same sleaze, different technology.

  11. If the students have at least minimal brains and a modicum of moxie, they will endeavor to start a perpetual awareness campaign about the permanent attempts of school officials to entrap them.

    On the other hand, they’re teenagers in public school so it’ll probably be forgotten within a fortnight.

    In summary, Fuck Government Schools.

    1. In summary, Fuck Government Schools.

      That covers it pretty well.

  12. My wife and I are perfectly capable of doing our own “intervention” with either of our sons, and if we feel we need more help, we will ask for it.

    Thank heaven my younger son’s school is not nearly as stupid and he is a junior.

    1. That’s great and all, but your sons aren’t really YOURS. They belong to “society”, and we’ll tell you how to raise them.

      /sarc

      1. We’ve always had a private notion of children, your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. – Melissa Harris-Perry, Professional Retard

  13. little Logan Jones who said she had scary thought about cutting herself, etc.

    Or little Sammy Benson, who fits some completely bogus school shooter profile.

  14. Yesterday John Dryden, the Illinois teacher who warned his students that they did not have to answer questions about alcohol and drug use on a survey distributed by their high school,

    I hope he gave them that warning in heroic couplets.

    1. Beat you to it:

      https://reason.com/blog/2013/05…..nt_3770768

      1. Dude, that was awesome.

  15. Proof that janitors contribute more value than administrators at most schools.

  16. If memory serves, the Supremes have basically said that students do NOT have constitutional rights based on the concept of the school being in loco parentis. I think this was in the context of a strip search for drugs. Clarence Thomas led the charge on that one, may he burn in hell for this.

    1. They did locker searches when I was in HS over 30 years ago. That was before Thomas. They said the lockers belonged to the school so they could open them whenever they wanted. No strip searches. If a principle had tried to do a strip search at my school, he’d have got his ass kicked.

      1. Well, the lockers DO belong to the school, so I see much less of a problem there. The case I’m thinking about was relatively recent, I think it involved looking in the bra of a 13 year old (which is probably why it stuck in my mind).

        1. I think it involved looking in the bra of a 13 year old (which is probably why it stuck in my mind).

          I’m not sure this is the kind of thing you want to be admitting in public.

          1. Note my handle.

          2. He IS an Old Man with Candy, after all.

    2. “If memory serves, the Supremes have basically said that students do NOT have constitutional rights based on the concept of the school being in loco parentis. ”

      Yeah, your memory is wrong.

  17. So they don’t teach the Bill of Rights in school?

    1. So they don’t teach the Bill of Rights in school?

      Um, no, of course not. Have you any idea what is in there?!

    2. Yes. Sort of like American Mythology.

  18. Apparently, they want the teachers to only teach the materials…they don’t want the teachers and students to actually apply this knowledge to their lives. It is a sad day.

  19. So how did the administrators find out this teacher read students their rights before handing out the pre-signed confession they were required to write? Did some tattletale snitch right-thinking student inform the authorities of this dangerous activity, thereby proving that the ‘See Something, Say Something’ program works as advertised?

  20. The defendants (the school administrators/district) will dig up anything they can on the plantiff that they didn’t know at the time of the incident as a part of the after-acquired evidence phase of discovery in the federal lawsuit until they can find a reason a jury MIGHT not believe the defendant to be a credible witness. Then lawyers from the ACLU representing the plantiff will file a notice of settlement with the court against the plantiff’s wishes and the judge will dismiss the case with prejudice.

    Yep, that is how it will work; just ask Joe Miller, the LEAP officer who was working as a Arizona probation officer and fired by his employer for supporting anti-drug war legislation in December of 2010.

  21. Opps, “plaintiff”, sorry.

  22. Oh, and that should have read “… until they can find a reason a jury MIGHT not believe the PLAINTIFF to be a credible witness.”

    Ah jeez, time for a nap.

  23. While the politically structured response the school system gave sounds legit, here is the reality. In a system that fosters a zero tolerance attitude, and where kids are expelled, suspended, and arrested at the drop of a hat, ahem, I side with the teacher at the moment. You do have the right to remain silent. Being caught up in ‘the system’ is the last thing any kid wants to do to themselves. They should be aware of that. In addition, any counselor worth their weight will know that people are ready to be helped when they are ready to help themselves. It also means, fostering a caring attitude, and that is something the school system does not do and has not done for a long long time.

  24. And the justification for asking for the name to be filled in IN THE FIRST PLACE was WHAT?!

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