What can you do when you feel your school is trampling on your rights?
First, check any student handbook or other written rules your district may have on the issue.
Then reseach the issue a little. Google it and see what’s been happening in the news with student and parent complaints or lawsuits. Chances are you’ll also find some good arguments against the school’s actions!
Get advice. Ask teachers, parents, members of the community, or others for advice on how to fix the problem. And call us at the ACLU of Iowa! (515-243-3576) We’ll offer advice, make suggestions, and maybe even help you take legal action.
Write the principal and/or school board a letter that outlines your concerns. Ask for a written response. Getting things in writing forces everyone to frame the argument more clearly. It also shows the school that you’re serious and not just blowing off steam.
Get petitions signed by other students, parents and teachers, especially journalism or yearbook advisors, debate coaches, history and government teachers or others who really understand—we hope!—the First Amendment.
Write an article for the school paper, website, or on social media. If you’re not allowed to post or publish it with school media, call or email us! You can also send it to your local paper or TV station. They love free speech and expression issues!
Make a statement at a school board meeting. Ask parents, community members, youth advocates, and any local lawyers who deal in First Amendment issues to join or support you.
Throw around the Constitution. If you know what portion of the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights is protecting you in this particular issue, it helps convince the authorities involved that they may be doing something that violates the law.
Helpful hint: Always stay calm and be respectful but firm in dealing with school officials. You’ll make your point better and they can’t nail you on unruly behavior.
Have a student rights problem or just a simple question?
Call us at 515-243-3576. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.