Batavia HS teacher disciplined for ‘teachable moment’

A high school teacher is being disciplined for some advice he gave to students who were taking a survey about drug use and other risky behavior.

The teacher, John Dryden, characterized all of this as a “teachable moment.”

The school board disciplined him for advising students they could plead the Fifth Amendment instead of taking the survey.

Last night, the community showed it’s support for the social studies teacher.

On April 18th, students were given a 34 question social emotional learning survey.  It included questions about drug and alcohol use. Students were also instructed to put their names on the surveys.

School officials say the questions were intended to identify teens who may need counseling or other help.

But Dryden told his class they had a Fifth Amendment right to not give any answers.

“We ask students to think critically full-time, all the time and this instance was no different than that,” Dryden told WGN.  “This was a critical thinking exercise in which apparently what was asked for instead was reflexive for obedience.”

School officials say the teacher “mischaracterized” the intentions of the survey.

But many at the meeting thought the survey was handled the wrong way.

Dryden said he was simply doing his job.

Students created an online petition to support Dryden and they have more than 7,000 signatures.

School board members voted to give Dryden a letter of remedy outlining certain things Dryden must complete or face further discipline.

However school officials would detail what those things were.

12 comments

  • lon

    sure-give the student their rights, inform them and then the big wigs of the school discipline him with possibly of more actions to follow-investigate those school board members-i am sure you will find skeletons in their closet

  • Kellie K

    I would have instructed them to not put their name myself. Honestly though did the school admins seriously think these students would answer the questions truthfully THEN add their name to the papers? They must be counting on the children they teach being complete idiots

  • Todd Pardee

    Like you are going to get honest answers to these type questions that the SCHOOL asks the students to put their name on….And hand in! What is the school board smoking when they came up with that?

    I see no issue with refusing to answer the questions, or Advising someone not to answer a question THEY were not comfortable to answer. Would the school board prefer to press the matter into a lie? What value would that false data bring? The school provides counselors that troubled students can go to if they need support on any issue.

  • Jason

    The teacher did the absolute right thing and educate the kids from unknowingly answering questions they didn't need to answer. Do HIPPA laws apply here as well and did the District overstep their bounds to take any information received and use it against the student without their consent to do so? I think the District may have broken laws and it needs to be investigated. With no consent from parents or the student, where does the District get off doing this?

  • NSmith

    All citizens have constitutional rights. That doesn't end at the school door. Just because the administration wants to bypass that for their own purposes, regardless of their stated good intentions, doesn't change the fact that students are entitled to all their constitutional rights – free speech, freedom of religion, and self-incrimination – are not exceptions!! I am sure it is no coincidence that he is a social studies teach!!!

  • Sue

    Shame on the administration and the school board. He should never have been disciplined! What were they thinking? Now they are backtracking and covering their butts! My three children have been through that school, and have been through issues with them and I have supported their decisions but this is just stupid. Wake up Batavia, this is ridiculous! He is the best teacher my kids had.

  • redstripe2

    As a student at Batavia High School that took the survey, I would like to say that students were not asked to put their names on the survey. The names of students were pre-printed on them. I was surprised that the board reprimanded Mr. Dryden, but hey, this is America, a country that prides itself on censorship. Oh wait, that's North Korea. Oops.

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