Teacher advises students against self-incrimination, faces punishment

Robby Soave Reporter
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A high school teacher may lose his job after advising his students not to incriminate themselves on a survey about drug use.

The survey asked students about their personal drug, alcohol and tobacco use. Its purpose was to help the school identify students who were in need of special counseling, administrators told the Daily Herald.

“We can’t help them if we aren’t aware of their needs,” said school superintendent Jack Barshinger in a statement.

Teachers were not instructed to inform students that the survey was optional. The school permitted students not to take it, but only if their parents had opted out on their behalf in advance.

But John Dryden, a social studies teacher at Batavia High School, noticed that the survey forms came with students’ names already printed on them. Not having time to bring his objections to administrators, he passed out the survey but informed students that they didn’t have to answer the questions, since the Constitution gives all Americans the right to avoid self-incrimination.

In an interview with the Daily Herald, Dryden recalled reading the survey questions and thinking, “Oh. Well. Ummm, somebody needs to remind them they have the ability not to incriminate themselves.”

Former students of Dryden took to the Internet to defend him, and have created an online petition calling on the board to reverse course.

“He is being treated unfairly,” Lucy Farrell, a student of Dryden’s, said in a statement.

The school board is set to review Dryden’s situation at a closed meeting Tuesday night, according to the Kane County Chronicle.

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