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Sweetwater Un HSD |  AR  5145.2  Students

Freedom Of Speech/Expression   

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Students Freedom of Expression

District students have the right to exercise free expression including, but not limited to, the use of bulletin boards, the distribution of printed materials or petitions, and the wearing of buttons, badges, and other insignia.

Circulation and Posting of Petitions, Circulars, Newspapers and Other Printed Matter

Students shall be allowed to distribute and post petitions, circulars, leaflets, newspapers, and other printed matter subject to the following limitations:

1. Time - Materials may be distributed at any time except to students who are in class receiving instruction or when such distribution would effect a substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the class or school.

2. Manner - The manner of distribution shall be such that:

a. An information copy shall be provided the principal prior to distribution.

b. Coercion is not used to induce students to accept the printed matter or to sign petitions.

c. Materials printed for distribution shall not be left undistributed or stacked for pickup while unattended at any place in the school or on school grounds. Reasonable storage shall be provided by the school for such materials.

Buttons, Badges, and Other Insignia or Symbolic Expression

Students shall be permitted to wear buttons, badges, armbands, clothing, and other insignia as a form of expression, subject to the hereinafter-mentioned rules for publications.

Bulletin Boards

Students shall be provided with reasonable bulletin board space for use in posting student materials on campus locations convenient to student use.

1. Where feasible, location and numbers of such bulletin boards shall be by joint agreement of local school student government representatives and the local school administration.

2. Student materials shall contain the date the material is posted.

3. Materials shall be removed after a period of time designated by the local school officials to assure fair access to bulletin boards for all students.

Standards to be Observed in Distribution or Display of Materials

In the exercise of the student rights described above, no student shall distribute materials, wear buttons, clothing, or other displays, or post notices or other materials which:

1. Are obscene according to current legal standards.

2. Are libelous or slanderous according to current standards.

3. Incite students so as to create a clear and present danger of the imminent commission of unlawful acts on school premises or of the violation of lawful school regulations or of the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.

4. Express or advocate racial, ethnic, or religious prejudice so as to create a clear and present danger of imminent commission of unlawful acts on school premises or of the violation of lawful school regulations or of the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.

5. Are distributed in violation of the time, place and manner requirements.

Disciplinary Action for Violations

Knowing and willful violation of this policy and regulation by any student is cause for appropriate disciplinary action, in accordance with established disciplinary procedures.

Purposes of Official School Publications

1. As an instructional device for the teaching of writing and other journalistic skills.

2. To provide a forum for opinions of students and staff.

3. To serve the entire school by reporting school activities.

School Newspapers

A school newspaper is designed to serve as a vehicle for instruction and is, in addition, a means of communication. It is operated and controlled by the student body and the school district. A school newspaper can function best when a full opportunity is provided for students to inquire, question, and exchange ideas.

Articles should reflect all areas of student interest, including topics about which there may be dissent and controversy. It is the intent of the Board that students be provided with avenues for the research of ideas and causes of interest to them and should be allowed to express their opinions. Controversial subjects should be presented in depth with a variety of viewpoints expressed.

Rights and Responsibilities of Students Writing for School Publications:

1. To print factual articles dealing with topics of interest to students.

2. To print, on the editorial page, opinions on any topic, whether school-related or not.

3. To require high standards of journalism for all student writers:

a. Submit copy that conforms to good journalistic writing style.

b. Rewrite stories, as required by the journalism advisor and/or editor, to improve journalistic structure, sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

c. Check facts and verify quotations.

4. To require an editorial policy for student editors which requires:

a. Student editors of official school publications to be responsible for assigning and editing the news, editorial, and feature content of their publications subject to the limitations of this section. (Education Code 48916)

b. In the case of editorials on controversial issues, to provide space for rebuttals, in the same issue, if possible, but otherwise no later than the following issue.

Materials Not Permitted in School Publications

1. Materials which are obscene, according to current standards of the community.

2. Material which is libelous.

3. Any material, the publication of which may cause substantial disruption of the school (substantial disruption is hereby defined as the threat of physical violence in the school or the nearby community and/or disruption of the school's educational program.)

Determination of Appropriateness of Material for Inclusion in School Publications

1. The publications advisor shall have the primary responsibility of reviewing each article prior to its publication, to determine if it satisfies all the conditions of these guidelines.

2. The advisor shall confer with the principal and keep him/her informed in the event the advisor feels the material to be published does not meet these guidelines.

3. No copy may be censored except for reasons specifically listed in these guidelines.

4. Nothing in these guidelines is intended to allow censoring of any article merely because it is controversial or because it criticizes a particular school, a school procedure, or the school system itself.

5. There shall be no prior restraint of material prepared for official school publications except insofar as it violates these guidelines.

Resolution of Differences Regarding Appropriateness

1. In the event of disagreement over whether the district has the right to place limitations on student material for publication, school officials shall show justification for such limitations without delay.

2. The material in question shall be brought before a Publications Board, which shall meet within 24 hours to submit its opinion. Its opinion shall be issued within 24 hours after meeting.

a. The Publications Board shall consist of the principal, the journalism advisor(s), the editor(s)-in-chief, the ASB president/or vice-president, and the language arts chairperson, as well as other members mutually agreed upon at each individual site.

b. If the decision of the Publications Board is adverse to the student, he/she may appeal to the Director of Student Services, who will render a decision within 24 hours after receipt of the appeal.

c. If the decision of the Director of Student Services is adverse to the student, he/she may appeal to the Area Superintendent who will render a decision within 24 hours after receipt of the appeal.

d. If the decision of the area superintendent is adverse to the student, he/she may appeal to the Superintendent and the Board. The Board will take up the matter at its next regularly scheduled meeting, provided that sufficient time is available to include the matter as an agenda item on the legally required meeting agenda for the next regular meeting, or sufficient time is available to issue an addendum for the regular Board meeting. In the event sufficient time is not available and the next regular meeting is not scheduled within fourteen days, or, exigencies exist which necessitate a resolution of the matter in order to prevent an impairment of the students' right of free speech, then a special Board meeting shall be called within fourteen days.

e. The grievance procedure shall in all situations proceed without undue delay, recognizing publications' deadlines as far as possible.


approved: November 17, 2008 Chula Vista, California