Do school administrators have the right to require that students take a breath test prior to being admitted to a school event? What are the parameters of police jurisdiction on a public school campus?
“Students don’t leave their rights behind once they step on the school bus,” observed a recent message from the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-NJ). Rights and responsibilities on campus and in the classroom are not always clear cut, and school administrators don’t always know where students’ rights begin and end, they say.
In an effort to articulate what students (and teachers, administrators, and parents) can and cannot do, there is a new edition of the Students‘ Rights Handbook, created by the ACLU-NJ and sponsored by the New Jersey Bar Foundation.
The Handbook says, for example, that “the short answer” to the question of whether drug tests can be required is yes; “school administrators can require a student to take a drug test if there is a reasonable suspicion that the student is under the influence of drugs, and they can have a policy that requires suspicionless drug testing for students participating in extracurricular activities or who park on campus.”
Is the message on that t-shirt objectionable and can a school teacher tell a student that it cannot be worn in school? “No,” advises the Handbook. “Clothing that expresses a political message generally cannot be censored but schools can prohibit profanity, references to illegal substances, and messages that are likely to cause a material disruption.”
And foreign students should know that all New Jersey students have a right to public education in New Jersey, regardless of their immigration status.
Other topics covered in the Handbook include homeless students; freedom from discrimination; sexual harassment; married, pregnant, and parenting students; and non-English speaking students. There are chapters on students with educational disabilities; bullying; immunizations; HIV and AIDS; freedom of speech and expression; religion; search and seizure; and sexual health and education.
At 46 pages and including some 224 footnotes, the Handbook is substantial, but may not address every possible inquiry. Any unanswered questions may be sent directly to the ACLU-NJ.
To obtain free copies of the Handbook, write to the N.J. State Bar Foundation, One Constitution Square, New Brunswick, N.J. 08901-1520; call (800) FREE-LAW; or visit www.njsbf.org. The ACLU-NJ may be contacted at P.O. Box 32259, Newark, N.J. 07102, by email at email@example.com; or by visiting www.aclu-nj-org.