Dryden, a social studies teacher, told some of his students April 18 that they had a 5th Amendment right to not incriminate themselves by answering questions on the survey, which had each student’s name printed on it.
The survey is part of measuring how students meet the social-emotional learning standards set by the state. It is the first year Batavia has administered such a survey.
School district officials declined to provide a copy of the survey to the Daily Herald, saying the district bought the survey from a private company, Multi-Health Systems Inc., and the contents are proprietary business information.
They did provide the script teachers were to read to students before the test. It does not tell students whether participation is mandatory or optional.
An April email communication to parents said their children could choose not to take the survey, but they had to notify the district by April 17.
Dryden said it was just “dumb luck” he learned about the contents. He picked up surveys from his mailbox about 10 minutes before his first class. Seeing students’ names on them, unlike past surveys, he started reading the 34 questions.
“Oh. Well. Ummm, somebody needs to remind them they have the ability not to incriminate themselves,” he recalled thinking. It was particularly on his mind because his classes had recently finished reviewing the Bill of Rights. And the school has a police officer stationed there as a liaison, he pointed out. Barshinger said the results weren’t shared with police.
“I made a judgment call. There was no time to ask anyone,” Dryden said. If the survey had been handed out a day or two before, he said, he would have talked to an administrator about his concern.
Instead, he gave the warning to his first-, second- and third-block classes. The test was given to all students during third block.
He suspects it was a teacher who told the administration about what Dryden had done, after the other teacher had trouble getting all the students to take the survey.