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I heard that it is illegal for a teacher to not allow their student to use the restroom. Is this true?

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Greg Jackson, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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While there is no actual law that I know of specifically stating that it is illegal for a teacher to prevent a student from using the bathroom, it is not that straightforward. A teacher, and the school in general, serves the roll of in loco parents. That is just a fancy way of saying that, when you are at school, your teachers are legally responsible for you the same way a parent would be at home.

This all means that if there were a safety or health reason that a student would need to go to the bathroom, your teacher would be legally at fault for preventing it. This does not mean that you can simply go to the bathroom whenever you like. It is still up to your teacher's judgement to decide if your bathroom trip is necessary.

I suppose that a note from a doctor stating that a student has a medical condition that requires frequent or regular bathroom breaks would legally enable a student to have unfettered access to the facilities. Other than that, it's still the teacher's call.

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mapriem eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It is not illegal for a teacher to "not allow" a student to use the restroom.  A teacher must manage students and their learning and more than not a student can wait for the appropriate time for a restroom break.  There are certain situations and cases that there can be an exception. If a student has a documented health issue from a doctor, then a teacher must allow the student to use the restroom at their discretion. The health and safety of students is paramount and any teacher endangering a students health can be liable. Remember that many students just want to leave the room for undisclosed reasons and this can interfere with the class learning as well as the individual student!

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jeanie70 | Student

No, it is not illegal, but it may be covered by your school district's policies. Some school districts have a policy against it or setting exceptions, etc... I'd encourage you to look there. Funny, this posting is fairly new. My 8 year old was denied the right to use the bathroom just yesterday at summer camp and I have every director/manager/coordinator over the program assuring me this this will NEVER happen again. Not to mention, they are encouraging me to write a formal complaint towards the counselor's suspension. You and everyone else here (whether you feel it is a "disruption" or not) must remember going to the bathroom is a RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE and no one should tell you when to and when not to... THAT IS OUTRAGEOUS!! I've always heard that most of the people that get into teaching are control freaks and this just proves that theory and then some. Disruption or not, if a student placed in your care asks to use the restroom, you are nothing short of inhumane to refuse such a RIGHT! And you stand to endanger the health of that student. If you are at the crossroads of determining whether a student is leaving to "goof off" or relieve a fundamental human need that we all possess, err on the side of respecting that RIGHT. You have a lot less to lose and you remind everyone that you are a human being first and a teacher second.

krishna-agrawala | Student

I have never come across any legal provisions defining rights of teacher to allow or not allow students o use rest room.

But I quite understand that teachers must show some flexibility when student in their class ask permission to use the rest room. At the same time we should also understand such practices cause disturbance in the class. Also students must learn to discipline themselves. If they don't, they will have serious problems in their working lives.

In  general teachers and schools adopt more permissive approach in lower standards, gradually the discipline is tightened in upper classes. I believe by the 12th grade students should be disciplined enough to not to use rest rooms during class hours barring rare exceptions.

oceans11 | Student

It is not illegal to for a teacher to not allow a student to use the restroom.  The decision as to whether students use the restroom is up to the individual treacher.  In elementary school, as far down as kindergarten students will aks permission to use the restroom.  It is up to the discretion of the teacher and her classroom management policy. If a student's request to use the bathroom is denied and he wets his pants, it causes trouble for the teacher.  Parents will get upset and storm the principal's office.  It is better to let the students use the restroom as the need arises.

gowolves | Student

it probably varies from school to school... I doubt its illegal...why do you ask?