December 16, 2016 - Since the outcome of the presidential election, our country and state have seen an escalation in incidents that threaten the safety and civil rights of minority students. Over the past several weeks, students of color have been subjected to bullying and harassment at school, students exercising their First Amendment rights to protest have been discouraged and threatened with discipline, undocumented students have been threatened with the possibility that their right to attend public school will be withdrawn, and LGBTQ students have been told they will no longer be accommodated and supported at school. We, like many of you, are disturbed and heartbroken to learn of the extent of the challenges these students now face just to make it through a school day intact. Some school staff and administrators have reached out to the ACLU of Oregon for assistance and resources.
In an effort to assist schools in confronting these challenges and providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, we are sending this advisory to all Oregon school district superintendents and sharing it here on our website. Our goals to inform students, parents, staff, administrators, and community members about the rights of students at school, to provide resources, and to ask that Oregon school districts take appropriate measures to protect the rights of your students. This letter addresses topics of bullying and harassment, the First Amendment, and the rights of students of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ students.
June 18, 2012 – Five civil rights and education reform organizations today applauded the launch of a new website created by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) making disciplinary data in school districts across the state more accessible to the public and say it is an important step towards reducing the disproportionate discipline of students of color in Oregon public schools.
The launch of the state database came at the request of the organizations after the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon released its report on the School to Prison Pipeline in Oregon in 2010. That report highlighted dramatic disparities in disciplinary action for students of color compared to their white counterparts, as well as increased contact with the juvenile justice system.
Many public schools in the United States ask students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Some students object to the practice for reasons of conscience. Both the Oregon Legislature and the courts have developed a common-sense solution to the conflict: a school may lead students in reciting the Pledge, but it must also respect the wishes of students who choose not to join in.
NOTE: A year after publishing our 2010 report on the School-to-Prison Pipeline, we learned that the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) had provided us with inaccurate data for one aspect of the report involving the number of students removed from classrooms and referred to Alternative Education Settings. The data they labeled as “Removals” was actually “Truancy” data. We had made all efforts possible prior to publication to ensure the accuracy of our report, including providing a final draft of the report to ODE staff members in order to double-check our findings. At the time, we were assured that all of the data was accurate. We very much regret the error. As a result, please disregard the text, graph and table related to the Removal to Alternative Education Settings which appear on Page 3 of our 2010 report.
October 19, 2010 – Students have been back in Oregon classrooms for more than a month, but the anxiety of the beginning of the school year is not over for many students of color and their families. A new report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon shows that African American, Latino and Native American students are subjected to harsher discipline than their white peers in Oregon.
Yes! All kids living in the United States have the right to a free public education. And the Constitution requires that all kids be given equal educational opportunity no matter what their race, ethnic background, religion, or sex, or whether they are rich or poor, citizen or non-citizen. Even if you are in this country illegally, you have the right to go to public school. The ACLU is fighting hard to make sure this right isn't taken away.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees everyone in the United States something called "due process of law," which means you have the right to be treated fairly by people who are in positions of authority -- teachers, school administrators, -- and the police.
The First Amendment guarantees our right to free expression and free association, which means that the government does not have the right to forbid us from saying what we like and writing what we like; we can form clubs and organizations, and take part in demonstrations and rallies.
Youth - Your Rights and Responsibilities You don’t have to do what everyone else in school is doing just because it may be popular, or cool, or "normal." You’re not a sheep; you’re not a mindless part of a flock. You are an individual, with individual rights and responsibilities.