Teacher Faces Discipline for Advising Students of their Constitutional Rights

By Susan Sarkauskas  Published in The Daily Herald

John DrydenA Batavia High School teacher’s fans are rallying to support him as he faces possible discipline for advising students of their Constitutional rights before taking a school survey on their behavior.

They’ve been collecting signatures on an online petition, passing the word on Facebook, sending letters to the school board, and planning to speak at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Students and parents have praised his ability to interest reluctant students in history and current affairs.

But John Dryden said he’s not the point. He wants people to focus on the issue he raised: Whether school officials considered that students could incriminate themselves with their answers to the survey that included questions about drug and alcohol use.

Dryden, a social studies teacher, told some of his students April 18 that they had a 5th Amendment right to not incriminate themselves by answering questions on the survey, which had each student’s name printed on it.

The survey is part of measuring how students meet the social-emotional learning standards set by the state. It is the first year Batavia has administered such a survey.

School district officials declined to provide a copy of the survey to the Daily Herald, saying the district bought the survey from a private company, Multi-Health Systems Inc., and the contents are proprietary business information.

They did provide the script teachers were to read to students before the test.

It does not tell students whether participation is mandatory or optional.

Read more at The Daily Herald

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