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Sweetwater Un HSD |  BP  5145.2  Students

Freedom Of Speech/Expression   

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The Board of Trustees recognizes the process of educating students for responsible citizenship in a democratic society requires reasonable opportunity for them to exercise the rights of freedom of speech and expression in the context of the public school environment, while also recognizing the responsibilities which accompany these rights, such as the responsibility to adhere to all school rules and to give serious thought to actions before committing them.

It is the policy of the Board to insure the exercise of the rights with due regard to the rights of others and the need for reasonable restrictions in the operation of the public school system.

Student liberties of expression shall be limited only as allowed by law in order to maintain an orderly school environment and to protect the rights, health, and safety of all members of the school community.

On-Campus Expression

Students shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press including, but not limited to, the use of bulletin Boards; the distribution of printed materials or petitions; the wearing of buttons, badges and other insignia; and the right of expression in official publications. (Education Code 48907)

Student expression on district or school Internet web sites and on-line media shall generally be afforded the same protections as print media.

(cf. 1113 - District and School Web Sites)

Students' freedom of expression shall be limited only as allowed by law in order to maintain an orderly school environment and to protect the rights, health and safety of all members of the school community.

Students are prohibited from making any expressions or distributing or posting any materials that are obscene, libelous or slanderous. Students also are prohibited from making any expressions that so incite students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises, the violation of school rules, or substantial disruption of the school's orderly operation. (Education Code 48907)

(cf. 5145.7 - Sexual Harassment)

(cf. 5145.9 - Hate-Motivated Behavior)

The use of "fighting words" or epithets is prohibited if the speech is abusive and insulting rather than a communication of ideas, and the speech is used in an abusive manner in a situation that presents an actual danger that it will cause a breach of the peace.

School officials shall not engage in prior restraint of material prepared for official school publications except insofar as the content of the material violates the law. (Education Code 48907)

The Superintendent or his/her designee shall not discipline any high school student solely on the basis of speech or other communication that would be constitutionally protected when engaged in outside of school, but may impose discipline for harassment, threats or intimidation unless constitutionally protected. (Education Code 48950)

(cf. 5137 - Positive School Climate)

(cf. 5144 - Discipline)

(cf. 5144.1 - Suspension and Expulsion/Due Process)

(cf. 5144.2 - Suspension and Expulsion/Due Process: Students with Disabilities)

Off-Campus Expression

Off-campus student expression, including but not limited to student expression on off-campus Internet web sites, is generally constitutionally protected but shall be subject to discipline when such expression poses a direct threat to the safety of students or school personnel.

Conduct by a student outside of class which for any reason materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is not protected by the constitutional guarantee of free speech.

Legal Reference:

EDUCATION CODE

48907 Exercise of free expression; rules and regulations

48950 Speech and other communication

51520 Prohibited solicitations on school premises

UNITED STATES CODE, TITLE 20

4071-4074 Equal Access Act

CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION

Article 1, Section 2 Freedom of speech and expression

U.S. CONSTITUTION

Amendment 1 Freedom of speech and expression

COURT DECISIONS

Lavine v. Blaine School District, (2001) 257 F.3d 981

Emmett v. Kirkland School District No. 415, (2000) 92 F.Supp. 2d 1088

J.S. v. Bethlehem Area School District, (2000) 757 A.2d 412 (Pa. Commw. 2000)

Beussink v. Woodland R-IV School District, (1998) 30 F. Supp. 2d 1175 (E.D. Mo. 1998)

Muller v. Jefferson Lighthouse School, (1996) 98 F.3d 1530

Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, (1988) 108 S. Ct. 562

Leeb v. DeLong, (1988) 198 Cal.App.3d 47

Perumal et al. v. Saddleback Valley Unified School District, (1988) 198 Cal.App.3d 64

Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser, (1986) 478 U.S. 675

Collin v. Smith, (1978) 447 F.Supp.676, affd. (1978) 578 F.2d 1197, cert. den. (1978) 439 U.S. 916

Bright v. Los Angeles Unified School District, (1976) 134 Cal. Rptr. 639, 556 P.2d 1090, 18 Cal. 3d 350

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, (1969) 393 U.S. 503

Harper v. Poway Unified School District, (2005) 445 F.3d 1166

Management Resources:

CDE LEGAL ADVISORIES

Limitations on Student Expression in School-Sponsored Publications, March 4, 1988

NSBA PUBLICATIONS

Digital Discipline: Off-Campus Student Conduct, the First Amendment and Web Sites, School Law in Review 2001

Policy SWEETWATER UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT

adopted: November 17, 2008 Chula Vista, California