Letter: Schools not in loco parentis

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As Bill Nemitz argues in the Portland Press Herald, the Yarmouth school honor code rules are clear. But The Forecaster’s Edgar Allen Beem is also right that the reach of the honor code has been overextended (“Honor code or inquisition?”). Students playing basketball can be expected to give their all to the team, to refrain from smoking, drinking, using drugs, and late carousing in season. The team – and school – may expect that. Students who put their indulgences before the team may expect to be grounded.

Otherwise, schools may not rightly act in loco parentis before and after school hours. They have no right to usurp parental responsibility or student freedoms.

A late 1960s New York Board of Regents legal advisory to a State University of New York campus at which I then taught is illustrative. Contrary to a long-unquestioned assumption, neither the administration nor the Student Council had a right to impose a student activity fee for purposes unrelated to degree requirements. Neither a town, school, nor student body assumption of authority establishes authority.

William H. Slavick