High School Journalism Teacher Suspended After Standing Up for Student Reporters’ Free Speech Rights

Free speech doesn't end at the classroom door.

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Administrators at one California high school reacted in all the wrong ways when student reporters tried to write a newspaper article about the recent dismissal of a popular teacher and debate coach.

San Gabriel High School principal Jim Schofield sent an email telling newspaper adviser Jennifer Kim to kill the story and suggested running a fluffy profile piece instead. Kim backed her students when they wanted to fight for their right to publish, and she was later suspended and remains on indefinite administrative leave. Officials from San Gabriel High and the Alhambra Unified School District declined to comment.

The free speech rights of public high school students can be a complicated matter, so Reason TV brought in Ken White, a First Amendment attorney, blogger at Popehat, and Reason contributing editor, to parse some of legal issues. He says that although the Supreme Court and California law offer some guidance, he's concerned about an educational environment in which administrators model anti-speech values.

"I worry about a generation of kids whose rights have not only been taken away but who have been taught by overcautious school administrators to scorn rights, to not believe in them, and to question them," says White.

Watch Reason TV's coverage of this case above. Approximately 7 minutes. Produced and shot by Zach Weissmueller. Music by Rho.

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