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BOTD 8/18/15 "Running For Office" A DMK Production

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David M. Katz

A DMK Production

You are the assistant principal of the local middle school.  Among your duties is discipline for the seventh graders.  You have several options to you including corporal punishment. (Up to three swats with a paddle.)

Morgan Taylor is one of your seventh grade students.  Morgan is a good student both academically and behaviorally.  Morgan has never had any trouble at school and is at the top of his class as far as grades.  Morgan is well-liked and popular among students and teachers alike.  It was therefore no surprise when Morgan decided to make a run as seventh grade class president.  There are two other students besides Morgan running for the same office.

Each candidate is given ten minutes on "election day" to make a speech to the assembled seventh graders.  Order of the speeches is determined by drawing straws and Morgan speaks last. The other two students give basic speeches telling about how much they plan on doing to make seventh grade better.  It is then Morgan's turn to speak.

Morgan Taylor - 7th Grade (12)
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Much to your shock and dismay and to the shock and dismay of the rest of the seventh grade faculty, Morgan's speech is a profanity and vulgarity laced comedy routine.  Morgan speaks and his fellow classmates cheer and laugh and applaud.  One of the guidance counselors supervising the assembly ushers Morgan off stage much to the disapproval of the other students.

Morgan is now in your office and you ask him to explain himself.

He says, "I wanted to be different and stand out and that sort of stuff is what people like.  Anyway, it is my First Amendment right to say what I want and I don't think I did anything wrong."

How do you respond to Morgan?

(By the way, Morgan wins the election.)

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.


When I was in high school, I started passing a petition (before class, not in class). I was called into the office, and it was explained to me that courts have ruled that schools need to teach the Constitution, but not follow it. Which is to say - students have limited rights at school, which are usually decided by how much disruption they would create.

To me, that's a rather specious argument - legal, but truly foul. I think the approach I would take is to explain to Morgan that he does have a lot of freedoms, but exercising those freedoms doesn't excuse him from accepting the consequences.

I could probably live with the profanity, as long as it wasn't directed at anyone, but my concept of 'vulgarity' means he probably stepped way over the line into potential harassment. I'm also going to point out that even his profanity could have been offensive to people of some sensibilities, and while he may have the freedom to say what he wants, he also needs to be responsible in how he uses it, if he wants this office.

As it stands, and I'm willing to call his parents in if he wants, but unless he was really over the line, I'm going to make it two swats and let it go, as long as I think he understands how and where he screwed up.

"In the end, it's just a story. But if you ask me, it's all true."


Editor Extraordinaire
I think I'll tell Morgan that I'm now seriously considering whether I should allow him to continue as a candidate in the election. I won't make him withdraw, but I do intend to make him sweat. I have no intention of making him a martyr, so I'll assign him a detention. He can do a little research on free speech in public schools, as well as what limitations affect minors' Constitutional rights, and spend his detention period writing a report.



The first amendment is meant to deal with political speech, not "profanity and vulgarity laced comedy routines".  Furthermore,  it does not allow him to "say whatever he wants"--the standard example is that shouting "Fire" inside a crowded theatre when none exists is not protected speech.  While I personally believe that they are " just words", there is a time and place for them, and during an assembly at a public middle school is not that time. Sorry, but a defense of "exercising first amendments rights" won't fly, especially in a school setting.

I'm going to make sure that Morgan hears that from me. I agree with Kat's suggestion about detention and having him research and write a report on the topic.  I agree that swats or suspension would make Morgan a "martyr", and that is precisely what I don't want to do as an administrator.


I will simply say to Morgan that his views are his own but it is not what he said but how he said it that has got him into trouble. Perhaps he would like his parents to hear some of the things that came out of his mouth...

I thought not. 2 licks and 3 if he wants to continue the discussion. The school wont go against the democrtic will ogf his class but will be hoping for a more mature approach from now on or his notoriety in class will start to work against him


Morgan wins the election hands down and pants down. Smile

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