When Batavia High School students were asked to reveal their drug and alcohol abuse on surveys marked with their names, social studies teacher John Dryden told them they didn’t have to answer. It’s in the 5th Amendment.
The 20-year veteran was reprimanded and suspended without pay for a day for what the school board called “inappropriate and unprofessional” conduct. In a letter, he was ordered to refrain from using “flippant” or sarcastic remarks, providing “legal advice,” and discrediting any district initiative, reports the Chicago Tribune. “Other requirements in the letter include that when Dryden is given a directive in a meeting, he must now repeat the directive back at the end of the meeting and agree to comply.”
District officials said the survey was meant to target students “in need of emotional and social interventions,” not to penalize students who admitted breaking the law.
Dryden is unrepentant.
“This un-vetted survey was and is a massive invasion of privacy and students do have a Fifth Amendment right not to give to a state institution any information that might incriminate them regardless of the intentions of that institution,” he wrote in an emailed response to the board’s letter. “The administration has argued that they intended to do the right thing and that we should have simply trusted them to act responsibly with the information provided by students.”
Dryden wrote that that the new requirements are “demeaning, vague, overly broad and constructed to entrap me in a future infraction for the purpose of termination.”
Where is the teachers’ union? Will they take action only when Dryden is fired for future flippancy or failure of allegiance?
Many teachers, former students and parents of current students turned out at the hearing to support Dryden, writes Joe Bertalmio, a local businessman, in the Tribune comments. “High school is a place where you send your kids to become adults, and if the only knock against John Dryden is that he speaks to his students like they are adults then I want every single one of my kids taking his classes. I can’t wait for the day that we get to vote in a new school board, I’ll be right there with a bull horn and list of names to oust.”