Student Civil Liberties


Student Civil Liberties

An educational administrator speaking before the American Civil Liberties Union in Kahului last week told the group that students are receiving greater personal freedom than ever before.

Dr. John A. Thompson, University of Hawaii educational administrator who specializes in school law, told the 21 persons at the Maui Electric conference room that the trend probably would continue.

In the past, Thompson said, schools sometimes barred married girls, banned the use of lipstick, expelled students for stealing from the community, beat students with willow rods, and prohibited students from joining unapproved clubs off-campus.

Today-this is out.

Much of the change, he said, followed a Supreme Court decision in 1967 which stated that "state schools may not become enclaves over students".

Thompson said other legal action has followed this trend toward greater student civil liberties.

Today, students can wear buttons, have revolutionary flags, wear armbands, hand out literature on school grounds, have an underground newspaper, and espouse any cause.

Dress codes, he said, are a thing of the past.

Schools cannot suspend students for the length of their hair, cannot regulate outside organizations, cannot prejudge student newspapers, and may not stop their distribution.

Previously, he said, high school officials were held responsible for editorial matter in student newspapers. This too appears to be on the way out.

Saying he had been a school principal, he said, "We often proceeded to take disciplinary measures against students for unsubstantiated charges."

It was a policy to support all teachers at all times "whether we had all the facts".

Guilt by association was also practiced. For example, several students would be punished for being in a bathroom where one was smoking a cigarette.

Summary judgements were often made in haste or anger. "I often did that."

Among persons in the audience for Thompson's talk were Andy Nii, Maui district superintendent of schools, and Abraham Aiona, Maui police chief.

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Buck Quayle at the Maui Lahaina Sun bureau circa 1970

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Buck Quayle, 2011


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