Students' Rights Issues The ACLU of Rhode Island is Involved With - Court Cases, Legislation, News Releases

Menu

Protecting Civil Liberties in Rhode Island for Over 50 Years

Issues

Students' Rights

Visit our High-Stakes Testing Page for news, documents, and photos related to our years-long fight to stop high-stakes testing in Rhode Island.

Recent News:

  • The ACLU has called on all school districts that currently have school resource officers to re-evaluate their use in the schools and to revise the agreements they have with police departments that set out their job responsibilities. The call was prompted by incidents at Pawtucket’s Tolman High School, which reinforced many of the serious concerns the ACLU has long held regarding the routine presence of police officers in schools. 
  • Despite growing consensus that out-of-school suspensions should only be used as a discipline of last resort, Rhode Island school districts continued to overuse suspensions during the 2014-2015 school year, the ACLU's latest school discipline report has found. The report, Oversuspended and Underserved, a follow-up to previous ACLU reports on the use of suspensions in Rhode Island public schools, found that schools doled out 12,682 suspensions in the last school year, often for minor misconduct. As in previous years, students with disabilities and students of color served a disproportionate amount of these suspensions.

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 practiced and protected in that setting.

Students' Rights in the News

  • Jun, 20, 2017: ACLU Settles Case on Behalf of Third Grader Searched and Arrested Without Cause
  • Jun, 13, 2017: ACLU Report Highlights Need for Statewide Policy to Protect Transgender Students
  • Jun, 01, 2017: ACLU of RI Report Highlights School Officials’ Ability to Spy On Students at Home

View All Students' Rights Related News Releases »

Students' Rights Related Court Cases

2016: Federal Hill Capital v. City of Providence
Category: Active Case    Discrimination    Due Process    Students' Rights    


About This Case:
This is a lawsuit against the City of Providence challenging a city ordinance that prohibits more than three “college students” from living together in certain areas of the city.  The lawsuit, filed in Rhode Island Superior Court, is on behalf of the owner and tenants of a house in the Elmhurst section of Providence. The suit argues that the ordinance violates the plaintiffs’ rights to due process and equal protection of the law.

Current Status:
In March 2017, we filed a motion for summary judgment and memorandum of law explaining why the court should declare the ordinance unconstitutional.

ACLU Cooperating Attorneys:
Jeffrey L. Levy, Charles D. Blackman

Supporting Documents
2015: J.A. v. Town of Tiverton
Category: Due Process    Privacy    Students' Rights    


About This Case:
This is a federal lawsuit against Tiverton police and school officials over an incident in which an 8-year-old girl was removed from a school bus, had her belongings searched, was taken alone to the police station without her parents’ knowledge, and then held and questioned at the police station for several hours before being released. The seizure, detention, and interrogation of the young child were based solely on unsubstantiated claims from another child that the girl was carrying “chemicals” in her backpack, and occurred even after the police found nothing suspicious in the backpack.

Current Status:
Lawsuit successfully settled in June 2017.

ACLU Cooperating Attorneys:
Amato A. DeLuca, Miriam Weizenbaum

Supporting Documents

View All Students' Rights Court Cases »

Students' Rights Related Legislation

Student Free Press (H 5550, S 600) PASSED
Category: 2017    Free Speech    Students' Rights    

This spring, the ACLU testified in support of important legislation introduced by Senator Goldin (S 600) and Representative O'Grady (H 5550), which would recognize the importance of encouraging student journalism and guaranteeing to students certain basic rights to freedom of the press.

This bill would reverse an unfortunate U.S. Supreme Court decision that had a chilling effect on student journalism throughout the country. Under this bill, a free and responsible student press would be able to flourish in Rhode Island, as it has in at least nine  other states that have adopted similar laws.

On the last days of the General Assembly session, both the House and the Senate passed this legislation.