With the ability to carry out punishments for school rule violations, deans are some of the most powerful figures in the school. Does Judiciary, the student-faculty branch of student government, have the right to question their decisions?
This question arose after a student complained to Judiciary that they thought their rights were being violated by the deans. Over the last few years, the Judiciary has been trying to define their role in the school community.
According to social studies teacher and faculty liaison to legislature, Judiciary and student council Jennifer Martin, the Judiciary’s primary responsibility is to review student complaints.
“For example, a kid gets assigned homework when there was not supposed to be homework, like a religious holiday,” Martin said, “So, they would go to judiciary and they would say like ‘This wasn’t fair, this was a violation of my rights.’”
The student-dean complaint forced the judiciary to consider their role in student government.
“ raised all of these questions among the administration to whether or not Judiciary can even comment on something that happens, or what a dean says,” Martin said.
Senior Evan Lindeman, a member of Judiciary, believes that deans do not want Judiciary involvement in disciplinary issues.
“Generally, the deans did not like us doing things with disciplinary action,” Lindeman said. “They like to keep that in their domain.”
Dean of Students Lisa Redding explained that the current process for disciplinary issues does not involve the Judiciary.
“If I’m going to suspend a student, could possibly appeal the suspension,” Redding said. “That does not go to Judiciary. That goes to the head of school. That goes to the principal.”
Redding also said that she does not know where Judiciary should participate because a lot of the information that is discussed in disciplinary issues is confidential.
“We don’t tell other students what a student’s consequences are, or other adults. And the appeal would go to my boss,” Redding said. “So I don’t know where Judiciary fits in.”
Lindeman believes that the Judiciary can benefit students as they navigate through getting assistance from different branches of student government.
“For disciplinary issues, I believe that we could help, especially to guide students through the process of appealing or getting recourse through the appropriate channels in the schools,” Lindeman said.
As a way to clear up the confusion about their part in disciplinary action, Judiciary is trying to make changes to the constitution, or even make a completely new one, according to Martin.
“My hope is that we might revise the role of Judiciary this year and try to do a constitutional amendment,” Martin said.
Martin said that in order to change the constitution, the entire school has to vote.
“Two-thirds of the student body and two-thirds of the faculty body must vote affirmative to amend the constitution,” Martin said.
According to social studies teacher and member of Judiciary Jennifer Grubb, the changes to the constitution would not be added for a while.
“We are still in that investigative phase,” Grubb said. “I think we could only make a potential recommendation. We obviously do not have the power to change it.”
Although the discussion is ongoing, Redding says both the deans and Judiciary are trying to help Judiciary figure out their role and make people aware of it.
“Maybe we can work together on a bill that does go to legislature,” Redding said. “It would be nice to have clarity on what Judiciary can do and let everyone know about it.”