Authority over Student Behavior Questionable

Marko Durovic, Staff Writer

One mistake can cause a student a lot of trouble. I hear stories on the news about those who misbehave outside of school and get suspended by the school or their sports team. But how far does the school’s authority really go?

Vice Principal Sharon Bartlett explained, “If any student is at any school activity, if they are on their way to school or they are between school and home all of the school rules apply.”

I think that is fair because in that time period the the school is still responsible for the student; however, not all students understand that legal distinction. ”It’s the responsibility of the parents, not the school,”  said junior Vikram Bahduri.

In any case, the ground is shaky on this matter, because “If there is no connection to the school we don’t have the authority to ‘punish’ students,” said Bartlett.

If a student goes to a party on a Saturday night and is involved in an activity that is illegal or breaks school rules, the school doesn’t have the legal right to suspend that student. If the act does not occur at school or during those times when the school is legally bound to be responsible for the student, then it is not the school’s business.

“The school has no business checking what students do when they are not in it,” agreed Bahduri.

Even if a reliable source gives a school official information about the transgressions of a student, the official can’t legally punish the student. However, the student can be counseled and parents can be notified.

If the school was able to react by having more authority out of school, would students be more careful about their behavior?

For example, for athletes, the rules are different. Athletes are obliged to follow both North Coast Section and team policies, which prohibit them from doing certain activities regardless of the time or place. “If they are drinking or involved with other substance or doing things that violates the contract, they can lose their privilege to participate on the team because they have signed a contract, ” said Bartlett.

The team technically has a right to suspend players or kick them off the team for behavior outside of school.

Sports teams, in my opinion, would benefit from knowing more about what the athletes are doing in their free time, but varsity football player Jack O’Donnell disagrees. He said, “It’s your option whether or not to stay safe and I think everyone has the right state of mind, so I think they should be okay by themselves.”

The fact is, the rules on this matter are not as clear as they could be.