Students' Rights - Court Cases, Legislation, News, Fact Sheets


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Students' Rights


Protecting the rights of students is key because most people’s first major encounter with the government is in the school setting. For students to appreciate the importance of civil liberties, it is critical that their rights be protected in school.

Students' Rights in the News

  • Feb, 25, 2019: ACLU Settles Legal Actions on Behalf of Students with Disabilities Affected by School Bus Strike
  • Feb, 11, 2019: Advocates for Students Raise Concerns about Official Response to Kickemuit School Discipline Problem
  • Oct, 16, 2018: Remedial Action Taken to Help Students With Disabilities Affected by Bus Strike

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Students' Rights Related Court Cases

2018: J.Y. v. Providence School Department
Category: Active Case    Discrimination    Rights of the Disabled    Students' Rights    Youth Rights    

About This Case:
J.Y. v. Providence School Department is one of three separate administrative legal actions taken with the RI Department of Education on behalf of students with disabilities who a caught up in the Providence school bus strike. All three complaints allege that the failure of the school district to honor its responsibility under the students’ Individual Education Plans (IEPs) to provide transportation to and from school violates federal and state laws protecting the students’ rights.

The three legal actions, all filed with RIDE, were:

1) Due Process Petition.
Filed by ACLU volunteer attorney Christine Marinello on behalf of twelve-year old Jeremy Young, who has “complex medical, mobility and academic needs and requires the use of a wheelchair at all times.”

2) Demand Letter.
Letter is on behalf of students with disabilities who live and go to school outside Providence, but who have been affected because their buses originate in Providence and are therefore not running.

3) Class Administrative Complaint.
Complaint is on behalf of four named families representing all students with disabilities whose education plans for transportation are being disregarded during the strike.

Current Status:
In February 2019, these complaints were formally settled.  The ACLU is still helping get reimbursement to parents who lived outside Providence but had their busing disrupted by the strike. Parents experiencing problems in getting reimbursed can contact the ACLU.

Christine Marinello, Veronika Kot, Ellen Saideman

2018: ACLU v. Miller
Category: Discrimination    LGBT Rights    Open Government    Students' Rights    

About This Case:
This is a lawsuit filed in RI Superior Court against the Achievement First Mayoral Academy for failure to respond to requests from the ACLU for copies of its policy pertaining to the rights and protections afforded transgender students.  The lawsuit argue that the school's failure to respond is a violation of the state's open records law.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in August 2018.

ACLU Cooperating Attorney:
Annie Goldberg

Supporting Documents

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Students' Rights Related Legislation

Over-the-Counter Medication In Schools (H 5323)
Category: 2019    Students' Rights    

Introduced by Rep. Susan Donovan, H 5323 would allow high school students to bring over-the-counter medications for self-administration on school property. Current regulations require school authorization; we argued that students shouldn’t need permission from a school nurse to bring Tums or Midol to school.

Military Recruiter School Access (H 5250)
Category: 2019    Students' Rights    

H 5250 would grant access to student names, addresses, and phone numbers to military recruiters unless the student or parent of the student opts out of having this information made available. An ACLU of RI study from a number of years ago found that most school districts do not provide clear and consistent methods for informing students of their right to opt out, and so we encouraged the adoption of amendments that would better protect students’ rights in these circumstances.