The Attitudes of Iowa Public School Board Members, Administrators and Students Toward Student Rights
Romitti, Marion Anthony
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Since the decade of the sixties, the constitutional rights of students have become a major concern of school board members, administrators and students. Because of the rulings of the court, existing school policies may not agree with the decisions the courts have made. In addition, many of the people serving as school board members and administrators were educated in schools that promoted an authoritarian-type atmosphere, with little regard for student rights. Therefore, this study was made to determine the present attitudes toward student rights held by school board members, superintendents, secondary school principals and secondary school students in the public schools of the state of Iowa. The problem. The problems investigated in this study were: 1) Are the attitudes of school board members, superintendents, secondary school principals and secondary school students similar in regard to student rights? 2) Is there a relationship between school district size as determined by K-12 enrollment and attitudes of school board members, superintendents, secondary school principals and secondary school students in regard to student rights? Procedure. A survey instrument containing thirty-two statements pertaining to student rights was sent to school board members, superintendents, secondary school principals and secondary school students in randomly selected Iowa public school districts. These statements were individually ranked according to a scale which measured a positive or negative attitude toward student rights. A two-factor analysis of variance was selected as the most appropriate statistical model for the data. Findings. The findings included: 1} Students have a decidedly more positive attitude toward student rights than school board members, superintendents and secondary school principals. 2) Secondary school principals have a more positive attitude toward student rights than school board members or superintendents. 3) Board members and superintendents are similar in their attitudes toward student rights. 4) In Iowa, respondents in the large school districts (1,500 or more students) have a more positive attitude toward student rights than those in the small (less than 750 students) or medium-sized (750-1,499 students) public school districts. 5) In Iowa, respondents in small and medium-sized school districts were similar in their attitudes toward student rights. Conclusions. The following conclusions were made as a result of the study: 1) There is a significant difference in attitudes toward student rights among students, administrators, and board members. However, the differences in attitudes toward student rights between school board members and superintendents is non-significant. 2) Although respondents in small and medium-sized school districts were similar in their attitudes toward student rights, there is a significant difference between respondents in those districts and the large public school districts. Recommendations. The following recommendations were suggested. 1) For school board members and administrators, there should be held periodically a required in-service day concerning school law and discussion of court decisions relevant to public schools. 2) Pertinent courses of study encompassing the constitutional rights of students should be required for all student teachers and potential administrators. 3) A survey instrument by which each school could test for weak or dissonant areas concerning student rights should be developed. 4) School staff-parent-student representative councils for the review of school policies and the establishment of long-range goals should be formed. 5) The development of a uniform student rights code legally acceptable to all concerned parties is recommended. 6) There should be a longitudinal study to see how, if at all, group attitudes change over time and whether such changes result in larger or smaller differences between groups. 7) An identification and study of other groups, such as parents, should be compared with groups like those included in this study. 8) There should be studies designed to determine why the differences exist between groups as were found in this study and to explore the effectiveness of procedures structured to reduce such differences.
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