Here’s what I was thinking when I filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Yarmouth family, whose daughter was disciplined for violating the school’s honor code: Parents have fundamental rights to direct the care and upbringing of their children, and children enjoy constitutional rights as well.

All of that is being trampled by a code that makes the school a super parent with preeminent rights and powers.

The code demands that a child commit never to experiment with alcohol, drugs or tobacco, never to do anything that may embarrass anyone, and never to tease or play practical jokes, even if off campus, during the weekends, evenings or vacations.

Adolescents do foolish things. They make mistakes. Their judgment is still developing. Walking the line, as a parent, between being a disciplinarian and a compassionate and supportive mentor is very challenging. It requires a parent to reach a unique balance with each individual child. Parenting is really hard!

The code treats each child the same. It is merely about discipline and power and it creates a disincentive for kids to be involved in extracurricular activities. Is that really what we want?

Kids will be kids. Kids will make mistakes. Now is the time to do that, before jobs and other large responsibilities are on the line. If every mistake carries with it such weighty consequences, then we are simply punishing our children for being children.

Most fundamentally, what are we teaching our kids about their own constitutional rights of privacy and due process? We are teaching them that they don’t exist, that government can intrude into their lives at will. That’s just wrong.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.