With all the reports coming in from students across the country telling their stories of how their school administrators are abusing power through unconstitutional infringements on student's rights to free expression, we decided to go ahead and put together something of an advice guide for students finding themselves on the receiving end of school disciplinary actions.
In today's school environment, all sorts of forms of expression are under attack. Depending on your school's policies, you can likely be suspended for the "crime" of expressing that you like certain music through your shirt of choice, for choosing a hair color that administrators do not like, for getting body piercings that contrast with mainstream society's accepted norms, for wearing certain types of clothing (such as trenchcoats) that administrators have deemed out of bounds, for wearing religious symbols (mostly non-Christian ones), wearing clothing containing certain colors, and much more. We at Rock Out Censorship feel all such policies are at best, misguided attempts at providing security in the school setting, and at worst, fascist attempts at absolute control by and for those in positions of authority.
Most of our efforts are working towards fighting such policies and seeing to it that they never come into existence. However, in the reality we currently live in, these policies are becoming more and more prevalent, so we decided to step back and prepare something for those of you that become victims of this policy in hopes of guiding you to the best possibility of maintaining your rights and punishing those that are abusing their power.
So here's what to do if you get that call to the principal's office. Note that we plan to update this advice guide after consulting with some ACLU attorneys to really solidify what's said and add to it. As is, it's just a few things that we think all students should know and tips on conducting yourself in the disciplinary process. This is not something that will absolutely succeed, but something we feel will provide you with your best chance for success.
1. When called to the office over something about your appearance, do not become belligerent whatsoever. In any court challenge on school policy, we do not want to have to fight additional charges against you other than the appearance charges. Stand your ground as far as your rights go, but don't start yelling and/or calling your administrators every bad name you can think of. This will help you dramatically in the court of public opinion to show that you aren't just some rebellious kid looking to start trouble. This will keep the focus of any challenge solely on your right to wear the clothes you wish to wear to express yourself.
2. Get everything in writing! Get them to write down why you are being disciplined, what school rule you violated, specifically how your actions were in violation of that rule, the actual text of the school rule violated, etc. Make certain that everything they SAY you are being punished for gets put in writing. Don't let them write one thing but leave off some other thing they might verbally say to you. Having documented evidence of everything that happens will be very helpful for making a presentation to the ACLU.
3. Contact your state/local ACLU offices and inquire how to go about submitting a complaint for their review. Usually, they'll have you mail them a written account of all that happened and they'll decide if your situation is something where it would be in their interest to assist you with a court challenge. A geographical listing of ACLU offices can be found on the Internet at: http://www.aclu.org/community/community.html
4. Contact us and submit an incident report as well. Depending on how backlogged with work we are at the time, we will try to put out an incident update for your situation on our website and through our mailing list to publicize your situation and try to rally opposition to your school's policy.
Good luck to all students being forced to grow up in such an oppressive environment where your freedoms can be trampled with impunity by administrators, often with less-than-honorable motivations.
R.O.C. - P.O. Box 147 - Jewett, OH 43986
- Phone/Fax: (740) 946-2011
Internet: http://www.theroc.org E-mail: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org