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Making Civics Real Workshop 8: Rights and Responsibilities of Students  
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Workshop 7

Workshop Session
Lesson Plan
Teacher Perspectives
Student Perspectives
Essential Readings
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Student Perspectives: Otis Bewear v. the Banneker Student Government Association (SGA)

Ashley: The case of Otis Bewear v. the Banneker Student Government Association is about a student [who] wants to run for SGA President. The teachers told him that in order to run he had to post a campaign sign and give them a speech that he was preparing. He said that he would do the speech but that he had planned on speaking to the students instead of posting campaign signs. They said that in order for him to run, he had to post a sign. So he posted a sign the size it was supposed to be but all it said was "Bewear." He posted it in a boy's bathroom. The school said that he couldn't run anymore, because he didn't follow directions, but he actually did follow directions.

We're supposed to be using the knowledge from each of [the] cases that we had and that the rest of the class presented to us. We have to find out what cases help us and what cases hurt us, and have the best argument to support Otis.

Kayeen: I'm arguing for Otis Bewear, the petitioner. He was suing for violation of his First Amendment rights. My group pretty much came to the conclusion that [the school] really doesn’t have much of a case because there was really no reason to put his name off the candidacy. He had fulfilled all of the requirements, unless the sponsor found it disrespectful to make a poster and put it in the boy's bathroom. There is no way that it can be proven that it was done out of malice unless [Bewear] openly admits it. They really have nothing to base their argument on for withdrawing his name. We basically decided that our arguments would be that he followed all of the rules for being able to run and the student government has no basis [for its decision]. We figured that we needed at least one legal reason, so we decided that this didn't violate the Tinker rule, which meant that it was not materially or substantially disruptive to anything that was going on in class. So you have two common-sense reasons and one court case defense.

Latia: The student didn't follow the correct rules for the activity, so the teacher dismissed him from it. The student went to court to fight for his First Amendment rights, saying it was a violation. The teacher stated that he did not follow the rules, therefore, she did not violate his First Amendment rights. [We] are working to prove that the teacher had a right to remove him from this event.

Zaneta: I'm on the side of the respondent, which is the SGA. My argument is that the program is school-sponsored, so the teacher could pull his name off of the ballot if she thinks that he didn't act [in accordance with] the standards of a campaign. We were going to use Bethel v. Frazier, Tinker, of course, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier and Karr v. Schmidt. Those were the cases that helped us and hindered us.


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