We often hear people refer to extracurricular activities as a “privilege…not a right.” We classify that statement as legally correct…..but professionally naïve.
We say that extras are a “privilege” because, as a general rule, the student’s right to an education does not extend to after school activities. The Texas Constitution requires that we have a system of public free schools. The courts have held that a student’s right to an education is a piece of property, thus implicating the 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. The government (your school) cannot take a person’s property from them (student’s right to an education) without providing “due process of law.” But case after case has held that the right to an education refers to instruction during the school day—not the fun stuff that happens after that.
But woe to the school administrator who cites this common phrase when dealing with an angry parent. Your lips may say “It’s a privilege not a right,” but the parents’ ears will process this as “I don’t give a flip about your kid.” So be careful when dealing with the ABCDs: athletics, band, cheerleaders and drill team. Be fair. Moreover, make sure that your process looks fair.
These issues can spin out of control. I recall the superintendent who asked me if the band boosters were required to register with Homeland Security as a terrorist organization. So be careful with your phraseology. That old “privilege, not a right” language might better be left to your lawyer if it comes to that.
DAWG BONE: WITH EXTRACURRICULARS BE FAIR…AND MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE PERCEIVED AS FAIR.