Do schools ever have the right to read private journals, looking for a students bad thoughts? Kimberly Swygert is on the offensive again, this time taking aim at Zero-Tolerance rules that lead to the expulsion of good students, for doing the kind of harmless things that kids do, like write fictional stories in their private journals.
If I were Rachel's parents, I'd sue the pants off everyone involved in this. This is absolutely bottom-of-the barrel, negative-IQ, no-judgment-involved thinking. Her father is absolutely right to say that her constitutional rights have been violated, although I'm amazed at the restraint her parents are displaying in this article. I would not have even ceded, as does her mother, that this extremely private literature should have been brought to the parents' attention.
Even if we give the teacher leeway for confiscating the journal, on the grounds that it was a non-class-related item being passed around during class, the teacher had no right to keep it and no right to read it. And then to summon the police in and expel a creative honors student for a private work of fiction? This young woman must feel like she's been raped. I would have, if a teacher took my private journal, read it, and then pressed criminal charges against me for what was in it, resulting in publicity which declared to the entire school, not to mention the world, what was in the journal.
Every time I assume that the zero-tolerance idiocies cannot get worse, they do. Next up, I assume, is that schools will move beyond regulating all thought, speech, and action within the school grounds and start prosecuting students for "crimes" committed off the grounds (in fact, since Rachel wrote the story at home, isn't that exactly what has happened here?). No kid in the public school system will be safe.