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Legal Rights of Students

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It is the position of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) that the nation’s school systems are responsible for providing “all students with free, appropriate, quality education” to prepare them for full, productive, and intelligent participation in society upon reaching adulthood. The U.S. Constitution does not protect the right to an education; however, denying children an education would deny them “the ability to live within the structure of our civil institutions, and [would] foreclose any realistic possibility that they will contribute…to the progress of our nation.”

School social workers are significant contributors to the formative years of children in America’s schools. In many school systems across the country, school social workers are among a select group of professionals who are able to address the “personal and social problems that inhibit a student’s ability to learn.” Furthermore, the role of the school social worker has evolved into a link between the family, the school, and the community.

This law note reviews a number of the legal issues that affect the practice of social workers within the schools and under the multitude of jurisdictions that exercise control over public and private schools.

Note: Citations to quoted sources have been deleted from this introduction.

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