The WHHS’ student handbook has been updated several times over the last few school years. Assistant principal, Ashley Morgan helped put together this year’s revised copy with school administrators and counselors. “[The new version] is a little bit cleaner, and just a little bit more to the point,” Morgan said. (Trent Willhite)
The WHHS’ student handbook has been updated several times over the last few school years. Assistant principal, Ashley Morgan helped put together this year’s revised copy with school administrators and counselors. “[The new version] is a little bit cleaner, and just a little bit more to the point,” Morgan said.

Trent Willhite

Know your rights

April 4, 2022

The WHHS 2021-2022 Student Handbook is an official statement of rules and regulations regarding school policies, put together by administrators and counselors. The handbook includes rights and responsibilities students have and should be utilized by families. An updated version of this school year’s handbook can be found on the grade level websites, which are linked on the school’s main website. Students who have feedback on the handbook are welcome to email their grade level counselor with any questions or concerns.

Much of our student body is largely unaware of their rights while attending a public high school in Ohio. In 1969 the Supreme Court ruled that students don’t “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” After reading through the 54-page handbook, here are some key takeaways that students should be aware of and take advantage of.

 

Photo Courtesy of: Kyndall Griffin

Dress Code

Within the ‘Student Rights and Responsibilities’ section of the WHHS student handbook, it states that “Students have the right to symbolic expression. This refers to expression that conveys personal beliefs through such means as hairstyle, clothing, [and] buttons.” The ‘Dress Code’ section makes no mention of commonly prohibited clothing items, such as ripped jeans and crop tops, citing that, “The primary responsibility for a student’s attire resides with the student and parents or guardians,” so long as, “student attire does not interfere with the health or safety of any student, and that student attire does not contribute to a hostile or intimidating atmosphere for any student.” 

However, the handbook currently includes a specific, gendered dress code for school dances, with multiple differences listed as to what is acceptable for students to wear. For semi-formal dances, acceptable male attire includes, “dress shirt with collar, dress tie, turtleneck shirt/sweater, knit shirt, dress coat/sport coat/jacket” whereas female attire includes, “blouses or tops with modest neckline, dresses or skirts (mid-thigh/fingertip length or longer),” lacking the more progressive stance of the dress code for every-day clothing. 

 

Kimaya Mundhe

Student Congress

While the rights of Student Congress may often be overlooked, the handbook specifically addresses their rights, including representation, expression and election. The handbook states, “The student body has the right to organize a representative student government …[that shall] be elected and shall equally and democratically represent all students,” also explaining that Student Congress “may evaluate any aspect of the school community.” 

Student Congress has two representatives on both the LSDMC [Local School Decision Making Committee] and ILT [Instructional Leadership Team]… and through those committees, we work with things like communication, scheduling, programming, and course offerings,” SENIOR class president Kylie Bridgeman said. “I’m the [student] representative for the ILT… and it’s just been a great experience [to be] in the room where decisions about education are being made and being able to bring in that student perspective.”

Student Congress is also responsible for planning the majority of class events, including school dances, where students lead decisions ranging from finances and budgeting to dance themes and decorations. 

“[You get to bring the ideas you see other people do [on social media] to life and it’s just amazing to put your own spin on it and to bring new traditions [forward],” Bridgeman said. 

Student Congress elections are quickly approaching for the upcoming school year; candidates are posted on the Chatterbox website every year. 

 

Trent Willhite

Disciplinary Action

Academic disciplines such as detentions and in-school suspensions can have damaging effects on a student’s record and, in some cases, on college applications. Currently, after-school office detentions are assigned for minor misbehaviors including tardiness and littering. As stated in the handbook, “Students may be assigned to Friday Evening School for more serious violations to the Code of Conduct than warrants detention.” Serious, Category III violations include possession of alcohol or drugs, physical or sexual assault, sexting and arson. A comprehensive list of discipline procedures, based on Ohio law and CPS Board policies can be found in CPS’ Code of Conduct. 

If a student feels a given consequence is unjust, they have the right to defend themselves under The Fourteenth Amendment. This amendment states that no government agency may deprive a person of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Students are entitled to be informed of rules and to be heard in their own defense when assigned to considerable disciplines. For expulsion and suspensions a “due process” must be followed. Per the 1975 Supreme Court ruling, at a minimum, schools must give effective notice of the charges to students and a brief informal hearing with an opportunity to present the student’s version of events.

 

Photo Courtesy of: Audrey Mello

Freedoms of Expression

All students at WHHS and any public school in the United States are still considered ‘persons’ under the Constitution, meaning that their First Amendment rights to express themselves remain while at school. Students have the right to voice their opinions and are encouraged to do so. They may hand out flyers and petitions, write articles and assemble in organized groups as long as there is no material or substantial disruption to classes or other school activities. The student handbook recognizes that upon administrative approval, all school groups, “have the right of access to school publicity facilities – bulletin boards, Daily Bulletin, and approved areas for posting announcements, as time and space permit.” Students may also symbolically express themselves and these freedoms cannot be restricted solely due to a staff member or administrator’s difference in opinion. Legally, students are allowed to petition school policies or public injustices through means that do not disrupt the school day. Protests and walkouts have occurred several times in the last decade at WHHS, however are not protected under the law because, in Ohio, everyone under 18 years of age is required to attend school. That being said, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, schools cannot punish students for missing school to participate in political protest more harshly than it punishes students for missing school for any other purpose.

 

Photo Courtesy of: Lecroitg/Pixaby

Grading Policy

Students are entitled to receive a grade for accurately reflecting how well they demonstrate that they have learned the material for each class, respectively. The 2021-22 course guide states, “grades at Walnut Hills are earned by the student, determined by the teacher, and are considered final. Any concerns about grades should be brought directly to the teacher.” Teachers at WHHS must be available at least once a week for help before or after the school day. This time can be used as a student sees is best fit and can include preparation of a special report, review of a test or quiz or help with a specific skill. The handbook also makes clear that “Excused absences, misconduct or disciplinary actions in or out of school are not to be used as criteria for academic grading,” and that a student’s personality should have no bearing on the grade they receive. Over the last few school years, CPS adopted and has updated a new 50 Point Grading Model, stating that, “a zero to fifty-nine percent range for an F grade would serve to be disproportionately punitive for students.” Many teachers support the 59-50% F grade, as opposed to a 0-59% range. “I always thought the grade report and double F rule were unfair,” a CPS high school counselor said. 

 

Hannah Campbell

Club Charters

The student handbook also addresses the formation and rights of general student organizations and clubs. The handbook states, “Students have the right to meet and form groups and organizations. No group shall be denied the right to organize and meet unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the group is intent upon disruption of the educational process or upon the violation of the law.”

To create a club or student organization, clubs must follow a series of steps, largely monitored by Student Congress. The student club leader must first find a staff advisor, then submit a club charter to Student Congress for approval. A club charter must include information such as the club name, objective and membership requirements. Following a vote by Student Congress, the club must then be approved by an administrator and must attend a club orientation. 

Upon their approval, clubs “have the right to hold meetings at which they may discuss, pass resolutions about, or take lawful action respecting any manner,” with “equal opportunity [for students]… without regard to sex, race, physical handicap, religion, national origin, economic or social status.”

Donate to The Chatterbox
$4500
$4500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Walnut Hills High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, cover our annual website hosting, printing costs and offset competition and conferences fees for students.

About the Contributors
Photo of Sarah Wilson
Sarah Wilson, Managing Editor of Visual Elements

In her third year as a Chatterbox staff member, Sarah Wilson is excited to work as the Managing Editor of Visual Elements. Wilson’s goals this year include...

Photo of Kimaya Mundhe
Kimaya Mundhe, Managing Editor of Viewpoints

In her fourth year as a Chatterbox staff member, Kimaya Mundhe, ‘25, is excited to work as the Managing Editor of Viewpoints. This year she hopes to...

Photo of Trent Willhite
Trent Willhite, Drone Photojournalist

In his second year as a Chatterbox staff member, senior Trent Willhite has enthusiastically taken on his role as a sports writer/photographer and assistant...

Photo of Hannah Campbell
Hannah Campbell, Remembrancer Staff

In her third year as a Remembrancer staff member, Hannah Campbell is excited to work as the yearbook Clubs Editor.
Campbell wishes to include almost all...

The Chatterbox • Copyright 2024 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in

Donate to The Chatterbox
$4500
$4500
Contributed
Our Goal

Skip to content