It is a familiar sound. A chorus of 22 voices joins together in a rising “oh” when a dean calls a student out of class. The student wonders if he is in trouble, even if the answer is likely no. When the dean begins to ask the student questions, the student feels obligated to talk. Students often feel that by not talking they can get in trouble.
The deans’ use of coercion causes ill-composed students to speak even when they have nothing to say.
By placing students in the figurative hot seat, NCHS is putting undue stress on its students. It is necessary to allow our deans to do their jobs, however, our school needs to offer protection to students who are put into a vulnerable position.
I believe that all students deserve a representative when being questioned by a dean in any and all cases. In a manner similar to the new Illinois law requiring a student’s parents to be notified before police questioning, the parents or guardians of students 17 or younger should be notified in the instance of dean questioning. At the time of notification, the student’s parent will have the right to elect to sit in on the questioning, appoint an advocate for the student or waive the student’s right to an advocate during questioning. Students 18 or older may request the same procedure.
By enacting a policy like this, the school will protect the social and emotional state of the student by increasing the comfort of a student during questioning. By having an advocate present, the environment of questioning will be less confrontational and more informative for the deans.
Central needs to do more to protect its students. Those facing consequences need someone to ensure that they are not being taken advantage of, treated unfairly or coerced into self-incrimination. And for those not in trouble, an advocate would help to streamline questioning, allowing deans to get the information they need and let students return to their classroom in a timely manner.