News from Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Fla.

Students and teachers have rights

April 3, 2017

Graphic by Michael Strobl

Graphic by Michael Strobl

Graphic by Michael Strobl

There is a reason why students arguing with their teachers in class can get sent to the office legally.

“The only rights denied of any student are those rights that might be deemed inappropriate or illegal, as determined by either the school resource officer or the principal themselves,” said Quasar Givens, assistant principal of Student Affairs.

Getting to graduation

Teachers and faculty use their resources and the rules to assure one goal is reached: graduation and the success of their students. “Basically, what we require is for students No. 1 to come to school, to do those things they need to do, to subsequently walk across that stage in four years,” Givens said.

For Givens, being proactive is key. “It’s all about the whole idea of communication. We don’t want to wait. I tell students all the time to take the ACT when you’re in the 10th grade,” Givens said. His focus is on making sure students don’t miss advantages they could otherwise take. “It’s all about making students aware, making those programs available,” he explained.

Teacher-student relationships

When it comes down to student’s free speech within classrooms, Givens emphasizes distinct situations. “I think it all comes down to that thin line. No. 1 the presentation, as well as the response that the teacher [or students get] back, and one of the things I’ve stressed to the students I have is that you want to make sure that you don’t put yourself in a position in where it becomes a contest between you and the teacher,” Givens said.

While students may have the ability to voice their dissent and opinions, faculty members aren’t able to as clearly.

“As a teacher, my own personal views of things that are going on-whether it’s political, whether it’s religious, I tend to keep those to myself,” Givens said. He thinks that the words he says have an impact on the students future and is careful not to say anything offensive or hurtful. “We work very hard not to retaliate, not to say things that could negatively affect the students, because it could have long lasting results.”

Modern day rights

Givens said students today have more freedom than ever before. “It’s amazing even when you look back into when I was in high school there were certain things that you didn’t question, certain views and philosophies that you didn’t express, you just basically kept them to yourself. They have a lot more freedom and flexibility now than they had in the past,” Givens said. While there may be restrictions on what students are allowed to do in school, they also enjoy unique benefits and resources.

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