Teachers’ responsibilities in the area of student safety on field trips are not inherently clear. Liability for negligence is an unclear concept involving foreseeability, to know in advance, and due care, the reasonable care exercised by a person under the circumstances. Sometimes restricting the rights of the students may also make them more inclined to break these rules. The student's rights might override the teacher's responsibility to maintain a safe environment for the student in certain situations. This situation has more potential to cause conflicts when the class is on a field trip. The teacher's responsibilities influence the student's rights because in order for the teacher to maintain a child's safety on a field trip, the teacher must limit the student's rights.
School administrators have the primary task of deciding where the line between the safety of the children and real-world learning experiences lies. School principals have the authority to say no to a proposed activity, or impose precautions that seem unreasonable. This can cause some vocal opposition from students and parents. The activities that cause the most controversy are the ones that don’t have much to do with the curriculum and are more recreation, social or entertaining. It is generally agreed that teachers have two basic duties, the delivery of instruction and supervision. The courts have held that teachers have a mandatory duty to supervise students under their control during the school day as well as at school-sponsored activities. School officials should not allow school-sponsored activities with a high chance of injury unless the risk can be completely removed.
Students have the right to effective, educational learning experiences that result from firsthand observation and participation in, events or activities that are outside of the community, and away from the school campus. They have the right to safety, and security for all participants, risk assessments, and proper management of all activities. However, teachers do have the responsibility to limit children’s rights if it is for their own safety, or for the sake of the integrity of the learning experience of the field trip itself. It is not always fair to infringe on the student’s rights for the sake of the learning environment; however there are circumstances that warrant the teacher asserting their responsibility for the safety of a student. The right that children have to attend school depends on their compliance with the rules and regulations set forth by the school. I had received an email from my son’s Social Studies teacher. She said that she was concerned that Brandon was being bullied, and possibly sexually harassed by another student. This student happened to be a girl which is why my son had a hard time with telling us. He was upset that the teacher “made such a big deal” of it, and told us. But I explained to him that teachers are required to report any instances of abuse or neglect, or any instance of a safety violation. If she had not she would have been in trouble also, even if the child asked the teacher not to. The next day my husband went to see his school counselor, get a clear understanding of school policy, and make sure “that everyone is doing their job” as he likes to say. A friend of mine who is a school principle in Colorado, told me about the school where she is. She says that the pregnant girls in the school cause occasional disruption in school. They are, of course, noticeably pregnant but they bring sonograms, and baby things to school to show to their friends, then after they have the baby, they bring the babies to school to show them to their classmates, which causes the commotion. Her issue is never with the babies but that somehow all of this promotes teens having babies because they make it look “cute”. The focus should be academics at 16, not having babies. She wishes that there was one of those alternative schools for the pregnant girls to go to, as to not cause such a distraction to the other students; however, the rights of a student cannot be restricted because of pregnancy or marriage. Whenever people interact in or around the classroom, the issues related to rights and responsibilities in the classroom are a major issue in schools but it is a hard issue to discern. I think that teachers should try their hardest to not infringe upon a student's rights. I think that students, especially older students, should be given responsibility to an extent that they can learn responsibility. If students are given freedom and corrected when they make bad decisions than they will learn, and students are in school to learn. I think that teachers should be liable for the student's welfare and I think teachers should be aware enough of their students, try their hardest, and use their knowledge to make the best decisions for their students. I understand that teacher's cannot always make the best decisions. I also believe that is why the laws are somewhat vague, and it is tough to establish rights and responsibilities for teachers and students.
• Johnson, J.A., Musial, D., & Hall, G.E. (2005). Introduction to the Foundations of American Education, (13th Ed.). Teacher and student rights and responsibilities
• Strope, J. L. (1984). School Activities and the Law. Reston: Virginia: NASSP. Laws and Regs on Student field trips
• Webb, L., Metha, A., & Forbis Jordan, K. (2000). Foundations of American Education (3rd Ed.). New Jersey: Merrill Teacher and student rights and responsibilities