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502.11 - Student Expression and Student Publications

It is the goal of the district to protect the educational environment for all students to help ensure it is free from substantial disruption or infringement upon their rights. Student expression should be appropriate to help ensure that students learn and meet the goals of the school activity and that the potential audience is not exposed to material that may be harmful or inappropriate for their level of maturity.

Student expression other than student expression in student-produced, official school publications made on the school district premises, under the jurisdiction of the school district, or as part of a school-sponsored activity may be attributed to the school district; therefore, student expression must be responsible. Student expression must be appropriate to assure that the students learn and meet the goals of the school activity and that the potential audience is not exposed to materials that may be harmful or inappropriate.

While students will generally be allowed to express their viewpoints and opinions in certain qualifying circumstances, student speech may require administrative regulation to help ensure the safety and welfare of the school community. The district may regulate speech that causes or is reasonably anticipated to cause material and substantial disruption to the education environment, infringes upon the rights of others, is obscene or lewd, is school sponsored, and/or promotes illegal activity. The administration, when making this judgment, will consider whether the activity in which the expression was made is school-sponsored and whether review or prohibition of the students’ speech furthers an educational purpose. Furthermore, the expression must be done in a reasonable time, place, and manner that is not disruptive to the orderly and efficient operation of the school district.

The superintendent may develop procedures for safely addressing qualifying types of mass protests by students, including walk-ins and walk-outs. Walk-ins occur when students leave their learning environments during school hours and gather in a group or groups with a purpose of promoting a belief or beliefs. Walk-outs occur when students leave their learning environments during school hours and gather in a group or groups off district property with the purpose of promoting a belief or beliefs.

The superintendent is encouraged to obtain feedback from community stakeholders in the development of these procedures. The goal of the procedures will be to address student safety, maintain the education environment, and promote communication during demonstrations while remaining viewpoint neutral.

Students who violate this policy may be subject to disciplinary measures. Employees are responsible for helping to ensure students’ expression is in keeping with this policy. It is the responsibility of the superintendent to develop administrative regulations regarding this policy.

Students may produce official school publications as part of the curriculum under the supervision of a faculty advisor and the building principal. Official school publications include materials produced in journalism or writing classes or for the newspaper, yearbook, or electronic forms of communication including video and web media which are distributed to the student body and publicly available either free or for a fee.

Any expression made by students which may include, but is not limited to, written materials, art, photos, and graphic images including student expression in official school publications, is not an expression of official school policy. The school district, board, and employees or officials are not liable in any civil or criminal action for any student expression made or published by students, unless the employees or officials have interfered with or altered the content of the student speech or expression. The liability, if any, is only to the extent of the interference or alteration of the speech or expression.

Official school publications are free from prior restraint by employees or officials except as provided by law. A faculty advisor will supervise student writers to maintain professional standards of English and journalism and to comply with the law including, but not limited to, the restrictions against unlawful speech. The production of official school publications will be guided by the law and by the ethical standards adopted by professional associations or societies of journalism.

Persons, other than students, who believe they have been aggrieved by student expression in a student-produced, official school publications will follow the grievance procedures outlined in board Policy 502.12-Student Complaints and Grievances. Students who believe their freedom of expression in a student-produced, official school publication has been restricted will follow the grievance procedure also outlined in Policy 502.12.

The superintendent in conjunction with building principals will be responsible for developing a student publications code. This code will include, but not be limited to, reasonable rules including time, place, and manner of restrictions. The superintendent [or designee] will also be responsible for distributing this policy and the student publications code to the students and their parents.

Adopted: 9/98
Reviewed: 5/11; 4/12; 7/13; 10/14; 1/15; 10/17; 9/20; 10/23
Revised: 11/06; 9/21
Related Policy: 502.11-R
Legal Reference (Code of Iowa): §§ 279.8, .73; 280.22
IASB Reference: 502.03
Mandatory Policy