May 30, 2013

High School Teacher Faces Discipline for Informing Students About Their Rights

An Illinois high school teacher's constitutional warning has put him at odds with school officials.
Batavia High School teacher John Dryden may face disciplinary action for reminding students that there is a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before administering a school survey last month, according to local reports.
Following several student suicides in recent years, the survey, which included questions about student drug and alcohol use, was meant as a "screener," the school district's chief academic officer, Brad Newkirk, told the Daily Herald. The results would be viewed by school counselors and psychologists, Newkirk said.
After reading through the questions, Dryden noticed the potential for students to incriminate themselves. So the social studies teacher acted quickly, issuing the warning to three classes of students before approaching school administrators with his concerns.
"I made a judgment call. There was no time to ask anyone," Dryden told the Herald. He added that he would have spoken to an administrator first, if he had received the surveys earlier.
According to the Kane County Chronicle, Dryden may face a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday for his action. However, the district's director of human services, Greg Romaneck, could not confirm or deny whether such a hearing would take place.
Whether Dryden is set to go before the school board or not, Batavia High School students and members of the community have banded together to back the teacher.
An online petition to "Defend and Support Educator John Dryden!" cropped up earlier this month, asking the school board to ensure Dryden's "employment and professional impact with Batavia Public Schools continues."
As the petition notes:
It is Mr. Dryden’s task as an educator to impart his students with the knowledge and ability to make informed choices, even if these lead to conscientious objection. For the administration of Batavia High School to pursue disciplinary action against a dedicated educator, whose instruction is solely student-centered is, in our opinion, an extreme lapse of professional competence.
The petition had over 4,200 signatures as of Tuesday morning, with a goal of 5,000 total.


  1. The Fifth Amendment says NOTHING about self-incrimination, or incrimination, PERIOD.

    Jesus Christ, enough of this crap, OK?

  2. Anonymous:

    Which bill of rights are YOU reading, dumass?? Jesus Christ indeed.

  3. To @9:01

    First, DUMBASS, the word has a "b" in it, OK? Second, where do the words "incrimination" or "self-incrimination" appear in the Amendment?


  4. to @7:17

    First, the fifth amendment says no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. Second, a definition of self-incrimination is "the giving of evidence or answering of questions which could make one subject to criminal prosecution."
    Even though criminal charges are not present here, it seems clear there is potential, and it seems clear we are dealing with 5th amendment issues here. Wouldn't you agree?

  5. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.