If a student newspaper offends administrators, should the teachers who oversee it be disciplined? A newly proposed law says no.

The California bill, authored by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would prohibit school employees from being “dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against for acting to protect student’s free speech,” the Christian Science Monitor reported.

From the article:

The California Newspaper Publishers Association reports 12 cases over the past two years in which teachers were fired or reassigned because of something written by students.

The number of cases of coercion, pressure or other manipulation by administrators against student newspaper advisers is far higher, they say — and much more goes unreported.

“It is rampant in every area of this state,” says Jim Ewert, a lawyer for CNPA, who logged many of the infractions while manning a student hotline and took his findings to Senator Yee.

But school administrators are banding against the proposal.

Still, the new measure is opposed by school administrators associations concerned about the potential for teachers to abuse the law to get out of disciplinary actions, transfers, or other reprimands.

“[We] have heard numerous situations whereby a teacher has used poor judgment under the guise of freedom of speech,” said Laura Preston, legislative advocate for the Association of California School Administrators, in written testimony. “The school principal must be able to utilize discretion when coming in contact with these situations. Teachers are the adults that must be held accountable for their students, even in the case of a school newspaper, yearbook or other written materials.”


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