Constitutional rights and minors

A guest article from Dawud Moragne, a Seabury Hall junior who is in Mrs. McLeod’s “Introduction to Law” class.

The vast majority of schools follow the guidelines of in loco parentis which state that the school and the administrators of the school may act as “substitute parental guidance figures” when the students are under the direct supervision of schools. Seabury Hall follows these guidelines and, as a private school, is not required to comply with the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause.

The laws of in loco parentis allow Seabury administration and staff to act as temporary parental guardians of students, therefore empowering the school to decide how the student body should act on campus under their supervision. This combined with the contract laws overruling some of the student body’s constitutional rights on campus, binds the students to the terms described in the contract and handbook, which promote punctuality and proper etiquette, prohibiting the use of improper, foul, or vulgar language, both verbal, or through social media with a strong emphasis on censorship towards bullying or slander.

But what constitutional rights do minors generally have in the public schools in the United States? This is still a popular topic of controversy in the courts and in the community.

Although we might assume that the rights of the Constitution are supposed to extend to all individuals of the United States, in our society today, minors definitely do not carry the same weight as an adult, and often do not have the same rights as adults. One of the most controversial parts of minor versus adult constitutional rights is regarding the freedom of speech. Young adults eighteen years or older have a voice that can be heard by the community on a higher, more loosely regulated scale, but minors must abide by societal regulations and norms, even at public schools.