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Freedom Of Speech In The School System: Rights For Dean And Students

882 words - 4 pages

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the exercise of an individual’s freedom of speech from infringement by government; the Fourteenth Amendment extends this protection to the States and local levels of government, including public schools and universities. The Supreme Court has held that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate” (Tinker). School officials have the authority to censor school-sponsored speech based on legitimate pedagogical concerns. The dean of students has not censored any editorials yet, but required that they be cleared by her before publication. The main issue in this case is ...view middle of the document...

As long as she does not impede the publication of any article without reasonable concerns, her actions are correct.
Student newspapers can be censored when there is a legitimate pedagogical concern (Dean). For a school official to determine the presence of any such concerns, he must read the content of a publication; the revising of publications by the dean of students is arguably a preventive measure to identify speech that is “ungrammatical, poorly written, inadequately researched, biased or prejudiced, vulgar or profane, or unsuitable for immature audiences” (Hazelwood) before publication. In violating the dean’s demands, I have violated a reasonable school policy, which constitutes a valid reason for disciplinary action. Assuming that I have been previously communicated of the existence of the new policy, there is enough evidence to prove my violation was intentional. Regarding the first situation in question, my rights have not been infringed upon.
The second problem stems from my planned participation on a student rally to protest an increase in tuition. Contrary to an editorial in the school newspaper, a speech delivered at a non-school event – even if it takes place on school premises – does not constitute school-sponsored speech (Poling). As long as the speech is within the bounds of civility and does not infringe on others’ rights, it will be protected by the First Amendment. The content of the speech does seem to raise privacy issues and may appear as defamatory, as it reveals information on the board and president’s actions and charges them with wrongdoing. The Supreme Court has held in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, however, that defamation...

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