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Students Rights Handbook -- Introduction

Know Your Rights, written by the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Vermont (the public education and litigation branch of the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont), is a handbook for Vermont public school students about their rights. It also offers an overview of the American legal system from which these rights evolve.

By educating yourself about civil liberties, you can join other students and be watchdogs for the protection of your own rights and the rights of your friends. You need to familiarize themselves with your school’s policies, too, which should (but may not always) follow the law. Knowing about your rights and school policies gives you the power to exercise the freedoms guaranteed by the Vermont and U.S. constitutions.

Get involved in shaping the policies that affect your rights at school. You can attend school board meetings and talk to the members of the school board about the issues that matter to you.

At the state level, Vermont students can get involved with the Vermont Board of Education -- two students sit as members on the board. The governor appoints one student each year for a two-year term, the first year as a “junior member” and the second as a member with full voting rights. If you’re interested in this opportunity, ask your principal or guidance counselor for an application (applications are reviewed in the spring for an appointment beginning in the fall) or find information on the Vermont Board of Education’s Web site.

Please note that this handbook discusses rights of students in public schools. Students in private schools (such as religious schools or prep schools) don’t enjoy the same rights. That’s because public schools are run by the government and attendance is required. Private schools are not run by the government and attendance is not required. The Constitution protects you against actions by the government, but not (generally) actions by private organizations.

If you'd like to see the entire handbook as one document, click here for a PDF version. Otherwise, use the index below to navigate to the different sections of the handbook. Most of the sections are arranged as FAQs. A single, complete list of all the questions in the different sections can be found at the All FAQs link.

Information about military recruiters' access to student information can be found in the "Student records and privacy section" of the handbook. Additionally, see the special Military Recruitment Of High School Students page elsewhere on our Web site for more information.

 

Students Rights Handbook index:

 

 

 
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