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Freshman decries loss of rights

[Editor’s note: The following email is from a 15-year-old freshman girl at McIntosh High School. Although she provided her name and address, we are not printing that information.]

Many students might have and should have signed the “Student Code of Conduct” in the beginning of the year. This “contract” had to be signed for students to attend classes.

Most students, me included, did not read the Code of Conduct. It was just another silly form students had to sign to please the administrators.

As it turns out we should have read the 30-page “rule book.” When I signed my name at the bottom of the green slip of paper, I did not realize I was signing away my basic human and constitutional rights.

I have been told by multiple teachers and upperclassmen, “You’re a freshman, you’ll learn that in high school you have no rights.” I nodded in agreement and thought it was just another made-up stereotype of high school.

Recently I experienced this absolute lack of rights. Only the other day I was out in the hall before school started, showing my friend a picture on my phone. A staff member I didn’t recognize, later identified as [name omitted], approached me and asked for both our phones.

How was I to know she was a teacher? I had never seen her before and she was not wearing a badge, only a name tag.

While my friend handed hers over, I politely declined, stating that it is my private property, which it was. Not only had school not started yet, but she had no valid reason to ask for the phone.

It’s not as if I was showing something explicit (it was my dog) or that my phone was an explosive device. She then asked for my name which I also refused to give. In defense of this, I did not know who she was. When a random stranger approaches you and asks for both your phone and your name, do you just hand it over?

I later find myself with three days of ISS (in-school suspension) for “Insubordination: failure to comply with the directions of a staff member.”

There was no insubordination, only a student acting on the rights she believed she had as not a citizen of the United States but as a human.

In the agenda on the first page it states, “Positive relationships and mutual respect among students and staff enhance student learning.” While I showed respect, I received none from [name omitted]. She behaved as if I had committed a crime when I refused to hand her my phone, when in actuality it was the other way around.

According to [a school official], students are not permitted to have devices out unless supervised by a teacher.

We all know that at least half of the students are always on their phones, yet not all of them are punished. According to administrators this is because there is not a large enough staff to enforce it on every single student.

If you can’t enforce it on all students equally, you should not be picking out certain students. This is a form of bullying, and as I remember McIntosh has an “anti-bullying” policy.

We are also not allowed to have the devices unsupervised since the moment we step foot on campus. I’ll admit, I didn’t know this, but what troubled me most was that McIntosh is the only high school in the county with that rule.

My argument was that I have basic human rights to my own property, and as I was not violating anybody else’s right, there is no room for any type of punishment. [The official] then informs me that as soon as students step foot on campus theoretically they do not have rights.

Again on the first page of the agenda right under the bolded word “Belief Statements,” it states, “Public education is the foundation of a free society.” How is this true if we are treated with no rights whatsoever?

Students are not only bullied by teachers, but also have their rights taken away. Learn from my mistake; logic and human rights will not defend your case against the administration acting like children.

Name withheld at editor’s discretion
Peachtree City, Ga.



After reading of this traumatic experience precipitated by the deprivation of a cell phone at school, I am apoplectic. Image attempting to endure the rigors of a school day without the constant companionship of the texts of a universe of others. Consider the endurance of Neanderthal communications like face-to-face discussions with a peer. And the worst fate of all is to be forced to attend to a teacher in a classroom for an entire period.

These human rights abuses rival those of a Soviet gulag! Thank you so much for keeping us all informed of the sad state of education at McIntosh.

And remember, truth is stranger (and much more funny) than fiction.

No doubt....how will they ever make it through the day.

Good comments, thanks for the laugh,,,

PTC Observer's picture

That's funny, you know what's even funnier?

“Public education is the foundation of a free society.”

Now that's funny!

Robert W. Morgan's picture

In 10 or 20 years these kids will be running our businesses, flying our planes, policing our streets. I wonder if it illegal to text while flying or policing.

In 30 or 40 years they will be in charge of the state and federal government and one of them will be President.

LOL about that if you can.

Live free or die!

This travesty would never happen there.

Oh right, they can't have a week of fun for homecoming.

I guess Dr. Barrow needs to fire all the mean teachers so princess can have HER phone and fun. Lol

Saving this poor freshman from themselves.

Why can't I delete this? My comment was posted twice.

Moral of the story:

Never, ever, EVER sign your name to something you haven't read. Duh. You acknowledged your understanding of all these rules and have no leg to stand on. Sorry.

brewster's picture

The small print taketh away.

RKS's picture

Where in the constitution does it say you have the "right to have your phone"? Whaa, whaa.....did your Mommy and Daddy support you in your outrage?

Freedom from Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides private property owners with the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. In other words, if the police, for example, want to search your property, they can only do so if they have probable cause.

Eminent Domain

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that the government cannot take away private property except for public use, and only if just compensation is paid. In other words, most of the time, the government cannot just take your property, but in the rare case that it can, it must pay you market value for it.

NUK_1's picture

I know how stupid and hopelessly ignorant some 15 yr olds can be, but this letter covers everything from "student rights, American rights, and human rights." OK. Way to go, ho!

Yes, I know about the little snowflake Rachel Canning that sued her parents for child support after she moved out of the house recently, but this is even worse. How can you be this damn ignorant of ANYTHING close to reality or so self-entitled?

This kind of reeks of a prank and not as a serious letter to the editor. Wise choice to keep her name withheld just in case it was meant to be serious.

Her parents are proud?

The Apolitical President's picture

Dear Freshman Student,

A public-educational institution is not an inspirational venue for someone demonstrating a desire to learn the truth about individual liberty, freedom of speech, or property rights, which you seemingly are becoming well-grounded in. Please don't allow the comments you are receiving regarding your opinion, nor the actions of government employees, prevent you from becoming a responsible adult with a moral compass guiding your conscience and your actions.
Government schools are government-centric where you are required to "render to Ceasar what is Ceasar's." Here, you must learn to be obedient to school authority without regard to moral principles.
You will have plenty of time in your life after your public school days have been completed to learn truths about life which will help you become a productive member of society.
As a member of a public school community you must obey all the rules the school's management imposes upon you, or else accept the punishment directed at you for failure to fully submit or comply.
This would be a great opportunity to learn on your own the difference between nature's law and civil law, as well as the history of how different societies' laws, from ancient to modern, have created the institution of the state, and how the state has developed into, in many cases, the enemy of the liberty and the free market
You have plenty of time in your young life obtain the wisdom your heart desires. Seek and ye shall find.

Peace and Justice and Truth

William King
The Apolitical President

[quote]Here, you must learn to be obedient to school authority without regard to moral principles.[/quote]

What wonderful advice! Thank you for taking the time to share. My only concern is the statement<strong> 'without regard to moral principles'</strong>. When receiving instructions for participating in non- violent protests, we were apprised of the law - and had a clear understanding that we were protesting the lack of moral principles in some 'laws, using lawful actions.
Students should be taught strategies for implementing moral change in our world. The strategy should be analyzed for its potential success.

The Apolitical President's picture

Dear Davids mom,

Thank you. When we truthfully teach the intent of American government in government-funded educational institutions, we will have progressed a long way towards enabling students with life strategies for implementing moral law into the characters and the consciences of those with whom they socially engage. "What a wonderful world this would be."

American socialism promoted in our political economy has caused teaching of moral principles to be counter productive to the growth of government dependency through fraudulent misrepresentation of the majority rule principle of American jurisprudence.

I am confident our mutually discussed "high school student" is on the right path towards possessing a good character. That brings me joy.

Peace and Justice and Truth

[quote]American socialism promoted in our political economy has caused teaching of moral principles to be counter productive to the growth of government dependency through fraudulent misrepresentation of the majority rule principle of American jurisprudence[/quote]

Love this statement ! To improve my own understanding, I do have some questions .
1. What activities demonstrate American socialism?

2. How would the teaching of moral principles be counterproductive to 'dependency'?
( Believe me. I am not a supporter of some aspects of government welfare programs. I have worked for well over 20 years for strategies that would 'lift up, not hand out'.). I think I understand what you are saying, I just feel if moral principles were correctly taught AND demonstrated, dependency may not be an issue.

It's been my experience as a voting adult (well over 50 years) - that 99% of the time Americans have the same goals, just different philosophies on how to achieve the goals. My mother lived to see great progress in how we treat our fellow citizens . I have also witnessed positive growth. It appears when we take the moral high road, we move; when we lower our moral standard, we appear stuck. Moral standard? Treat every human the way you want to be treated - with no exceptions!

Peace. (I too feel the youngster has the basis of a good character)

mudcat's picture

#1 question about socialism in America That would be the whole thing about where someone goes after the rich or successful to redistribute their wealth down the food chain to the less fortunate. Obamacare is a start. My premium went up 100% and I got dental care with that - except it was dental care for kids under 18. Wow.
Or, if you don't like that one - how about the deal where we have to pay for food stamps for half the population and by the way - half the population does not pay taxes. Is that enough for you or do you want more.

#2 Teaching moral principals would not be counter-productive to dependency, the issue is learning - not teaching. if more parents would teach and encourage their kids to get up and go to school and learn to be receptive to learning instead of being disruptive, things might be better in the future. Moral standard you say, how about not slugging innocent pedestrians to get a gang initiation or how about not mugging people at the Pavilion. Geez.

No doubt that you are going to change the subject and go off on a tangent, but I have answered your 2 questions. Have I not?

The Apolitical President's picture

Dear Davids Mom and mudcat,

Thank you both for expressing your thoughts. We seem to all be in the same lifeboat battling unconstitutional government. Hopefully, we can cooperate and restore Americanism while leaving socialism and Islamism to self destruct.
I address these issues in depth on my blog which is found at the Freedom Works, Freedom Connector blog site. My blog is entitled "American Presidency: The Apolitical President."
New ideas and original thought encourage me on my personal journey to provide the alternative to the status quo producing unconstitutional government policies and economic failure.
I appreciate both of you for your concern for education and character building.
Unfortunately, until American public opinion is no longer constructed by the media empire, or ignored by the Senate, the Executive Office and the Judiciary, citizens will continue to bear unreasonable burdens placed upon them by leviathan, central government and socialistic government policies.
When voting for government employees, please consider whether candidates accurately represent your opinions, and whether they seek to serve or to gain power.

Peace and Justice and Truth

brewster's picture

Information Superhighway with digital communication and Internet: For in much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

[quote]Hopefully, we can cooperate and restore Americanism while leaving socialism and Islamism to self destruct.[/quote]

Islamism is a religion. There are many Islamists who are Americans. There are Islamists who are terrorists. Christianity is a religion. There are many Americans who are Christians. There are Christians who are terrorists. I want the terrorists to be eliminated - not the religion.

[quote]Unfortunately, until American public opinion is no longer constructed by the media empire, or ignored by the Senate, the Executive Office and the Judiciary, citizens will continue to bear unreasonable burdens placed upon them by leviathan, central government and socialistic government policies.[/quote]

[quote]Teachers need to learn truth before they can teach truth[/quote]

Movements of 'change' that have been successful have been mostly based on 'peace', calm (in deference to anger), and non-violence. With the value of the teaching profession returning in the eyes of society in the United States, hopefully truthful 'history' of our great country will be taught to all students from K- Graduate School - and those who chose the honored profession of education will be teaching the truth.

I too feel that we are all in the same lifeboat wanting our Constitution to address the rights of all Americans.

[quote]When voting for government employees, please consider whether candidates accurately represent your opinions, and whether they seek to serve or to gain power.[/quote]

This is a powerful statement, IMO. Our elected leaders do work for us, the American citizen, and our taxes pay their salaries. It is our responsibility to listen carefully, beyond media soundbites, to what they say - and more importantly, WHAT THEY DO in order to serve. If they are there only for power and additional financial benefits - we have the vote as a tool to replace them.

I also appreciate the sharing of Mudcat's opinion. I would appreciate knowing what you (Mr. King - and others) identify as socialist activities in our country. Thanks!

brewster's picture

The Jews. The Sicarii were a bad bunch.

of the way you are talking about this kid. Most of you on here complain daily about the trampling of rights from one political party or another and how no one has the gumption to stand up to the politicians abusing their power in D.C. You complain about the lack of civility and the constant rhetoric. Yet, here is someone who wants to stand up for their rights, or at the very least, get a conversation started and most of you are falling all over each other to post the most inane comment you can. Passivity, accepting government abuse without feeling like you can question authority......that's learned behavior and that's exactly what it sounds like you want her to learn. Abuse of authority is just fine, don't worry about it. If someone takes your rights away, its fine, really. If someone seizes your property and conducts a warrantless search, just close your eyes and let it happen. The government and their minions are always right and know everything and whatever they do is for your own good so don't argue or fight back or even ask questions.
Are these really the lessons you want this kid to learn?

A phone in School, oh the horror!

When she grows up to be just another sheeple that mindlessly accepts any and all abuses of authority and power. Don't expect her to come to your aid when your rights are being trampled. She'll probably just think its funny.

Carry on and teach'em well.

But she accepted her 'lack of rights' by signing the discipline policy. So regardless if these are rights or privileges, this girl accepted that she had none.

Again, please learn to read stuff you sign.

You're missing the obvious fact that as a minor she isn't competent from a legal standpoint to sign anything. She can sign whatever they put in front of her. Its not binding. So nothing in your statement applies in this situation.

Besides, its not like she had a choice. If a student doesn't sign, they are sent to in school suspension until they do sign it. They are not allowed to go to class, they are not allowed to learn. What do you expect a kid to do? If the kids have no say or choice in the matter, why bother with the farce of making them sign something in the first place. You sign, or don't sign based on your choice. But they are not really giving her a choice, are they? This isn't a private school, its a public one and she has a right to a public education, she shouldn't have to sign some of her rights away in order to receive others. If you have to do that, its not really a right, is it?
What if someone told you that in order for your kids to go to school you had to give up the right to vote? Would you still feel the same then?

I have a hard time believing that. Lord help us.

I think that just because you are 15 does not mean you do not have private property rights and are not entitled to the protection of probable cause and freedom from warrantless searches. If a cop did this to an ordinary citizen would you not be outraged? abuse of authority is abuse of authority , no matter how young the victim is.

Alright then. Let them eat cake.

I wasn't aware we were talking about a person on the street having property seized....

By the way, did your Daughter get her phone back? They took my Son's once, called me to come get it. Safe to say, my Son never made that mistake again. :)

No no no...this is not a legal contract. Signing in this case only implies that she had been informed of the rules. She's even admitted that she lied when she signed that she read the rules but hadn't.

I mostly find fault with the argument presented:
'I signed that I had read the rules, even though I didn't.'
Then the rules were enforced.
'What rule!? That rule is ridiculous! My rights are violated!'
Why didn't you contest the rule when you read it? It didn't violate you then.

I haven't read every single law and ordinance on the books or memorized all the speed limits and parking signs everywhere. But if I get fined or ticketed, even if I didn't realize I couldn't park there or what the speed limit was, I'm still guilty.

especially if her claim that this happened before school started is true.
[quote] I haven't read every single law and ordinance on the books or memorized all the speed limits and parking signs everywhere. But if I get fined or ticketed, even if I didn't realize I couldn't park there or what the speed limit was, I'm still guilty.[/quote]
maybe. but even then, you get the benefit of a trial, a hearing and trust in the fact that the cops have to follow the rules too. Here, it seems that the teacher did not obey the rules. She did not identify herself, she attempted to seize private property outside school hours and had no probable cause.

and signing that you read them if you have no choice or say in the matter? If someone passes a rule saying "if you wear the color blue you will be horsewhipped" doesn't mean its okay. If someone asks a minor to sign a paper saying they understand the rule or they wont be allowed to go to school does that now make it okay?

FayetteFlo's picture

I will admit she isn't competent.. I think maybe the parents, as competent adults, should be made to sign all documents on behalf of their incompetent children.. then when their children violate the rules, the responsible adults can be locked away. On the issue of private property rights in the school building, does that include not only cell phones but also guns and knives? Just sayin'.. The line has to be drawn somewhere.

NUK_1's picture

You believe this goofy 15 yr old's crap about having "human, US and American rights" to have a cell phone in school? Sorry, as a libertarian, this is hardly an abuse of powers or taking away any alleged "rights" that 15 yr old snowflake believes exist and actually don't nor should they.

We have cheapened the meaning of "rights" by trying to extend them into the extreme as a 15 yr old goof would attempt to do.

And let them use them whenever they like. Heck, let them enjoy a week of tomfoolery for homecoming, lol.

Then let's try to find a teacher to actually teach.

Even if I let my kid have a phone, which they don't, I would certainly side with the teacher and administration. Then my kid would have faced punishment at home for talking back to a teacher.

Rights for a 15 yr old silly student? If they want rights, quit school, get a job, and move out of the parents house.

brewster's picture

How better to keep up with what they say and where they go.

[quote=Husband and Father of 2]Then let's try to find a teacher to actually teach.[/quote] I'll do it. Oh, wait. I already teach high school in this county and would never march up to a kid before school even starts and demand their property unless lives were at stake.

But some teachers aren't or more hard nosed about rules. And that's ok on both sides.

My guess is there's another side to the politeness displayed. I still side with the school decision.

is one thing, making them up as you go is another. The rules state that you cant have your "electronic device" out in class without permission. This girl clearly stated that is was in the hall, before school even started. The girl could be lying, but I doubt it, since if this happened in class she would have known the teacher. There is no prohibition against using phones before class or even in between class. I take up phones I class from time to time, but not before school. I have known other teachers who think their badge gives them the right to treat kids like garbage, but thankfully I don't know any now. It sounds like this teacher just went a little overboard and then got offended that the girl didn't immediately submit to her almighty authority and decided to pile on the "insubordination" charge as well. There might be more to the story but probably happened just like she said. Kids that do wrong rarely feel the need to write the editor of the local paper.

We have all had good friends and fair weather friends, good and bad bosses, clergy, teachers ect... As a parent and an educator, we must teach our kids how to deal with all types. I coach. If a kid makes a physical mistake while trying their best, you tell them to forget about it and keep trying. When a kid mouths off to coach or an official, you bench them.

I wasn't there, so I don't know the truth. It's probably somewhere in the middle, but I think I have good judge of character and can tell from the story that someone feels entitled and most likely said something disrespectful. The principle has an obligation to support the teacher, based on the child's insubordination. Like any teacher or coach, I am sure that you have had parents complain a time or two because of a grade, or your too hard or too soft. It comes with the job and as a professional educator, I would assume you would want the support of administration.

I support critical thinking. Anarchy is appropriate at times. But disrespect of authority at school cannot be tolerated whether the teacher had identification or not.

You are clearly "making it up as you go." Read the "secondary code of conduct" posted on the school website. You are clearly inaccurate in your remarks. Phones are for educational purposes ONLY. The are NOT to be used for any other purpose after entering the building in the morning until school ends. Where do you teach? Why does your school not enforce the rules? Why don't you do your job and enforce them?

One of your posts was during the school day. Don't you have a job to do during school hours. Your remarks have already demonstrated that you don't know the rules about cell phones and that you don't enforce them. Maybe you should spent your school times doing school work (like reading the rules).

The Apolitical President's picture

I wish this "high school student" could get into your class a couple times over the next three years.

Otherwise, so many children grow up to become accustomed to the religion of secularized and centralized American government.

If conscience gives people a choice and if government takes it away, our conscious thought that is, then government will be left with no other option than to choose for each of us. The sad fact of modern American culture is that a majority of citizens may favor this option and do not understand the dire consequences ultimately inflicted upon the least politically active members of this citizen-majority.

Peace and Justice and Truth

rights against property seizure and warrantless searches?
What crime, what disruption was she causing before school by showing a picture to someone that would warrant this kind of reaction.
Do you really want our children so browbeat and submissive that they comply with any instruction from a stranger, no matter the request or reason?

The US Supreme Court years ago ruled that students on campus (public/private/college) have no 4th or 5th Amendment protections while on school property.

Students persons, lockers, and even cars can be searched by any school staff member with no probable cause.

This is why even police officers on campus have a staff member nearby when a search is needed.

And to remind the many people who say "i didn't read that before i signed it" Courts have always stated that ignorance or choice to not fully read a document can be held against you. Ignorance is no defense to contract or the law.

This girl was in the wrong all over:

1) Rules state no electronic items to be used on school property unless supervised

- Student FAILED

2). Students will comply with all orders/instructions given while on school property

- Student FAILED

3). Staff member was wearing a badge, according to student.

- Student FAILED

If student thought the staff was wrong, she could have immediately gone to front office and reported incident. She didn't until called up for violations of rules

Lets stop making excuses for our bad choices, take responsibility grow up.

Ryan Jolly
PEachtree City

"Even a pancake has two sides." None of us were there so we don't know just how this went down. Did this person come up,identify herself (was she wearing any identification?) and say something to the effect that "You know the rules, you are not supposed to be using your phones, therefore according to school rules I am asking that you give them to me" or did she come up without any identification and just tell them to hand over the phones? As for reading everything in the Code Book or whatever it is called--I'd like to ask how many of us adults read the page after page we are asked to sign each time we go into the doctor's office? Most of us skim through the first page or two and then just looked for where the yellow underliner is and sign like the lemmings we are--now be honest, isn't that what we mostly do--and this is to do with our very lives and treatment we are to receive.

I wonder what attitude this young lady had--was she rude, did she just question the person and her authority? Again none of us were there. I do know when I was in high school, I was a good student and had great rapport with all my teachers yet I questioned authority time after time. In my senior year, I started a petition to boycott the senior prom because the student council had decided outsiders should not be allowed to attend and I just happened to be dating a marine--who would look spectacular in his dress blues. My teacher's talked me into dropping the petition--and because I respected them I did so--so I went alone, wore the sexiest dress that was allowed at that time and had all the guys following me around all night--so I made my point in my own way. But that was a different time and everything was not considered a crime or a reason to be suspended. I have utmost respect for teachers and principals today, they have a heavy burden and there is always that chance of violence popping up when you least expect it but that was not the situation in this case. Anyway, let's give this young lady props for having the chutzpah to vent her feelings and sign her name.

Gort's picture

Dr. Phil said a pancake has two sides? What does that mean? The in-side and out-side or, a piece of ham and an egg?

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote for the Democrat.

a piece of ham or egg?

This little prima donna must be your daughter, because no one else would possibly expend so much energy defending such an indefensible argument. Look at her own testimony. The school has a clear policy in writing that she signed; thus, the school made a very reasonable effort to inform her of the policy. Her phone was in plain sight. No unreasonable search was made of her person. She admits that she violated the policy. She was given a normative consequence for failure to abide by the written policy.

McIntosh High School has every right and a strong responsibility to create rules and to enforce the rules after they are in place. If little Miss “I’m above the rules” wishes to change the policy, there are several avenues available to her. She can go through her student council, petition the Fayette County Board of Education, etc.

Please don’t cast this little girl as a martyr, beaten down by the mighty government who has mustered the courage to engage in civil disobedience for a noble cause. She is a whiny adolescent who externalizes blame on others because she can’t be bothered even to read the policies of her school, much less abide by them.

Give your daughter a kiss on the forehead and send her to bed, but for Christ’s sake, give it a rest!


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