Note: Guest Opinions are added — to this page on an intermittent basis.Phoenix-Talent school policy leaves too much undefined
The Phoenix-Talent School Board has adopted a policy that holdsstudent leaders to a higher standard than other students at Phoenix High School.

The policy, written in response to issues surrounding the KeanonFerguson drug case, may be vague enough to deter some students from seeking office on grounds that they couldbe ousted for just about anything.

Among provisions of the policy are these clauses, Thestudent government will not tolerate members who do not show, by their actions, a good representation of thestudent government and a good example to their peers.

The policy cites several specific reasons a student could beremoved from office, and then adds, including for any other actions that are detrimental to the welfareof the school.

There is nothing wrong with encouraging student leaders torepresent the school well and be good examples to other students, but including those hazy ideas in the schoolconstitution, without specifics, leaves the path open for school officials to oust just about anyone theychoose for just about any reason.

The provision allowing removal for any other actions thatare detrimental begs the questions, what does detrimental mean and who gets to interpret the clause'sintent? What is its intent, anyway?

The district's interim superintendent, Ben Bergreen, supported thepolicy. We want to hold them to a little higher standard, he said, speaking of student leaders. Hesaid the rights of students still would be respected if they were suspected of an offense.

Fine. We don't doubt that current school officials would interpretthe policy fairly, but who knows what school officials of the future will think and do?

It's good, though, to hear someone speak of student rights.Despite court decisions to the contrary, young people should have rights, particularly freedom of speech, andrecognition of those rights should begin at school. These new policies potentially do away with some students'rights, and apply the rules to one segment of the student body and not another.

Sure, the rules apply to student leaders, but they,too, are students and should be treated fairly and in much the same manner as their peers. These vagueprovisions might encourage otherwise.

Ferguson, the student body president, was removed from officeafter being caught in possession of marijuana on school grounds. He effectively was reinstated during ayearlong legal battle and finally removed from office at the end of the school year.

Bergreen said the new policies give the district the leeway toavoid such legal battles in the future. The language was implied before, but now it's spelled out,he said.

The school board should have stuck with writing policies thatattempted to prevent similar drug problems in the future, rather than crafting open-ended policies that coulddeny students the rights they deserve.

Again, we think it is reasonable to hold student leaders to highstandards. But we also think it is reasonable that the school district make clear exactly what those standardsare. — Click here to contact your elected representatives

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