In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. Students in school as well as out of school are "persons" under our Constitution.
— U.S. Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas, Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)

In spite of the Supreme Court's ringing endorsement of students' rights in the landmark Tinker decision, constitutional violations are far too common in public schools across the country. Articles about controversial subjects written for student newspapers are censored. Lockers and backpacks are searched without reasonable suspicion. Minority students are disproportionately directed to lower track programs. Religious practices are officially sanctioned by teachers and school administrators. Female students are excluded from certain extracurricular activities, and gay students are intimidated into silence.

Teachers and administrators have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for the students that is conducive to learning and a responsibility to respect each student's individual rights. Kids have rights too!

School Discipline & Discrimination: In 2014, the US Departments of Education and Justice released a groundbreaking guidance on school discipline, explaining that, under federal civil rights laws, public schools must eliminate racially discriminatory discipline in all its forms.

The ACLU of South Carolina welcomes this new guidance, as the discriminatory impact of discipline policies in our state, which fall hardest on children of color, has been well documented for some time. We call on South Carolina educators and officials to work to end the discriminatory discipline policies that exist in our schools -- including zero tolerance laws like “disturbing schools” and corporal punishment.