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Illinois teacher in trouble for advising students about Fifth Amendment before drug-screening survey

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A high school teacher in Batavia, Illinois could be disciplined for informing his students of their Fifth Amendment rights before administering a survey school officials was intended to gauge their emotional needs.

The Batavia Daily Herald reported on May 25 that social studies instructor John Dryden advised students of their right not to incriminate themselves before giving them a “screener” survey on April 18 that had each student’s name printed on it.

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“I made a judgment call,” Dryden told the Herald. “There was no time to ask anyone.”

Dryden could reportedly be issued a “letter of remedy,” which would stay in his employment record. The Kane County Chronicle reported on May 25 that officials did not confirm whether Dryden will face a hearing during the local school board meeting on Tuesday.

Brad Newkirk, chief academic officer for Batavia Public School District 101, told the Herald that the survey, asked students about their emotions and use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, and that the answers would be reviewed by social workers and school counselors and psychologists. The district bought the survey from a private company, Multi-Health Systems Inc, and did not provide a copy, saying it contained proprietary business information.

Superintendent Jack Barshinger said to the Herald that the survey was supported by local teachers as a way to stem an increase in student suicides, since many of them reported not being able to tell when a student was having emotional problems. The responses, Barshinger added, would not be shared with police.

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“We can’t help them if we aren’t aware of their needs,” Barshinger told the Herald.

Dryden told a former student, Joe Bertalmio, about the possibility of sanctions against him, which prompted Bertalmio to create an online petition in Dryden’s defense. The petition has garnered more than 1,500 signatures as of Monday afternoon. Bertalmio also reportedly plans to address the board on Tuesday, while Dryden told the Herald he would prefer the discussion center on the self-incrimination issue.

“I think I am a sideshow,” Dryden said to the Herald. “[The survey] was rushed and it wasn’t vetted.”

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[Image: “An angry mature teacher holding a wand and gesturing” via Shutterstock]

[h/t Reason.com]


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