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Your rights in Education and Schools

What are your basic rights in education and schools?

  • Every child has the right to attend public school in the district where they live until the age of 21. The right to education is a constitutional right in Washington state. You can find more information on enrolling children in school on the Education Resources page.

Free Speech

  • First Amendment rights protect speech in schools. You have the right to express yourself through speech and writing, the activities you participate in, what you wear, and your choice of music, art, books, and other media. However, schools can limit certain speech and expression by students as long as the school is doing so to promote strong educational interests. This can be to prevent disruptions during school and promote safety.

Dress Code 

  • Clothing is a form of expression - generally, students are free to dress as they would like at school. Schools can impose restrictions on clothing related to goals such as preventing disruption or promoting safety. Dress code cannot be discriminatory. 

Student Clubs

  • All non-curriculum-related student groups must be given permission to use school facilities regardless of the focus of the group.


  • Students have the right to not have their possessions unreasonably searched or taken. However, this does not mean that students can never be searched or have their personal belongings taken away at school.

  • Standards for searches: For school staff to conduct a search of a student or the student's belongings, the staff must have reasonable suspicion that a violation of the law or school policy has or is taking place. This is a lesser standard than what is required for a police officer to search someone. This means that school officials can search students more easily if they have reasonable suspicion.


  • All students have the right to equal protection. If you believe you are being treated differently due to race, gender, religion, pregnancy, disability or any protected class, report it. if you are being discriminated against because of your Muslim identity, report it to CAIR-WA by clicking on the "GET HELP" button at 

Where to call if you experience discrimination in education

  • Seattle Public School Title IX Coordinator: (206) 252-0367 

  • WA OSPI Equity Civil Rights Office: (360) 725-6162 

  • U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights: (206) 607-1600  

Every school district in WA has a primary contact person for the anti-harassment, intimidation, and bullying policy.

  • This person receives copies of all formal and informal complaints and ensures policy implementation.

  • Find your district's contact for bullying here.

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