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Legal Rights of Students in the Public Schools: A Descriptive Case Study of the Center for the Study of Student Citizenship, Rights and Responsibilities in Dayton

The Center for the Study of Student Citizenship, Rights and Responsibilities was established in Dayton, Ohio in October of 1970. This Center was one of the first student advocacy centers to be established in the nation, and was to assume the posture of investigating and providing answers to many problems that students and parents were being confronted with in the public school system in Dayton, Ohio. Financial support received from Legal Services Division of Research and Demonstration Programs of the United States Office of Economic Opportunity enabled the Center to function more effectively in achieving its primary task, that of informing students of their rights and responsibilities within the school system. Major objectives of this study were: (1) to identify major actors influential in the establishment of the Center and to determine major events that led up to the Center's establishment; and (2) to analyze the Center's initial period of operation from November 7, 1970 through. June 30, 1971, Within the general framework of these overall objectives a number of specific purposes have emerged. First, through analysis of written documents, correspondence materials , and newspaper accounts , and through use of interviews, the investigator has (1) identified and described major actors influential in the establishment of the Center, and (2) identified the major events that led up to and influenced the establishment of the Center. Second, through an analysis of grant proposal, reports, correspondence materials, demographic data and through use of interviews and on-site observations the investigator has: (1) identified procedures used in the operation of the Center and the roles of the various personnel and (2) described and analyzed major Center activities. The review of the related literature focused upon the following four topics: (1) the social upheaval in our society during the past two decades, (2) the declining organizational health of our public schools, (3) educational reform in America, and (4) literature related to students' rights activities in America. Although many people were involved in the establishment of the Center, the following provided the major influence in the design and establishment of the Dayton Center: Arthur Thomas, Dr. Edgar Cahn, Mrs. Jean Camper Cahn, Dr. Ruth Burgin, Mr. Terry Lenzner, and Mr. Michael Kantor. In addition, members of two local agencies (Model Cities Planning Council and Community School Councils) assisted greatly in the establishment. In analyzing the major program thrust during the first year, the Center activities have been organized into the following categories: (1) development of inter-agency and community relationships, (2) development of dissemination materials, (3) design and implementation of ombudsmen training program, (4) description of selected case studies and potential areas of litigation, and (5) operation of a student board of inquiry into high school discipline. In summary, the following facts emerged: (1) workshops held have drawn over 1,100 people, (2) case referalls have totaled 125, with 105 parents accompanying students, (3) a written, cooperative relationship document has been developed with the administration of the Dayton Board of Education, (4) Student Rights Handbook has been developed and distributed, (5) ten parent ombudsmen have been trained to provide Center services to parents and students, (6) Center secured additional $10,000 grant from the United States Office of Education to develop a rights handbook for parents, (7) eight video tapes have been developed for training, (8) with the National Urban League, the Center secured a planning grant for an experimental school, (9) Center is working with Ohio State Legal Services to protect rights of students through analysis of pending legislation. The investigation focused primarily upon documentation and analysis of the emergence and initial year's operation of the Center for the Study of Student Citizenship, Rights and Responsibilities. It is important to note that the Center is still in the embryonic stages of developing a new process the provisions of basic rights for students in Dayton, Ohio.
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