Written by: Josi Billings
A free public education, as guaranteed at a state and federal level, insinuates and requires public accommodations. What if you were told that you were to be restricted of a basic human need?
At Smithville High School, students were being told just that.
Lots of controversy over the bathroom expectations have been roaming among the halls of Smithville High School. Students are being told an assortment of information regarding bathroom expectations from warrior time teachers. Students were asked to give feedback to administration in their warrior times on January 22, coming up with lots of ideas to stop behavioral issues in the bathroom.
Though the subject has been addressed in every warrior time, many students are being told inaccurate or even unrealistic bathroom expectations.
“In my warrior time, I was told there were gonna be more strict rules such as monitoring during class who comes in and out of the bathrooms,” freshman Elaine Hawkins said. “One teacher just mentioned how they were gonna close all the bathrooms and have porta potties outside”
Hawkins, like many others, experienced a discussion in her warrior time primarily focused on bathroom expectations getting more strict, where other students had discussions from a completely different standpoint. Many students reported receiving wildly differing pieces of information, leaving the student body with completely different impressions of what the true expectations will be at the high school.
Receiving incorrect information caused many students and parents to express avid frustration with administration, despite the issue being the inaccurate and vague instructions given to warrior time teachers. Many teachers reported feeling “confused” when presented with the activity that they were instructed to conduct with the student body. According to one warrior time teacher, the information given was “not particularly clear.”
Principal of Smithville High School, Dr. Tracy Platt specifically addressed multiple rumors of bathrooms being closed, stating how administrators would never want to create an expectation that more divides the students from the staff.
“[We] as the staff have not changed anything with regard to the restroom at this time, and if they have been locked temporarily it is because they are being fixed from the vandalism that has occurred or the custodian is cleaning them,” said Platt.
Despite this, several teachers at the high school continue to implement personal classroom or individual expectations limiting restroom use. There is no building-wide expectation or policy preventing teachers from creating their own rules for restroom use.
“Petra Williams had a sign in her room that outlines her own policies. In her class, every student is allowed to use the bathroom during her class no more than three times a quarter, and only during certain times,” said Brennan McGraw, sophomore. “So I had to go really bad, and Petra told me I was out of bathroom passes. I was forced to leave the class in order to use the restroom, and I ended up getting reprimanded for that basic human need.”
Though many students have been told bathrooms may be closed during class time, Smithville administration has no legal obligation or intention to enforce any kind of policy as such, limiting students restroom use. No new building-wide expectation will be enforced at this time, but teachers are still able to create new guidelines at any time.
“Legally I could never implement an expectation such as the one mentioned,” said Platt. “It’s not possible.”