5145.2 BP - Freedom of Speech/Expression: Publications Code

Board Policy No. 5145.2
Policy Adopted:  May 15, 2008


The Governing Board believes that free inquiry and exchange of ideas are essential parts of a democratic education. The Board respects students' rights to express ideas and opinions, take stands on issues, and support causes, even when such speech is controversial or unpopular.

On-Campus Expression
Students shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press including, but not limited to, the use of bulletin boards; the distribution of printed materials or petitions; the wearing of buttons, badges and other insignia; and the right of expression in official publications.  (Education Code 48907)

Student expression on district or school Internet web sites and on-line media shall generally be afforded the same protections as print media.

Students' freedom of expression shall be limited only as allowed by law in order to maintain an orderly school environment and to protect the rights, health and safety of all members of the school community.

Students are prohibited from making any expressions or distributing or posting any materials that are obscene, libelous or slanderous. Students also are prohibited from making any expressions that so incite students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises, the violation of school rules, or substantial disruption of the school's orderly operation.  (Education Code 48907)

(cf. 5145.7 - Sexual Harassment)

The use of “fighting words” or epithets is prohibited if the speech is abusive and insulting rather than a communication of ideas, and the speech is used in an abusive manner in a situation that presents an actual danger that it will cause a breach of the peace.

School officials shall not engage in prior restraint of material prepared for official school publications except insofar as the content of the material violates the law. (Education Code 48907)

(cf. 5144.1 - Suspension and Expulsion/Due Process)
5144.2 - Suspension and Expulsion/Due Process: Students with Disabilities)

A student shall be subject to discipline for off-campus expression, including expression on off-campus Internet web sites, when such expression poses a threat to the safety of other students, staff, or school property, or substantially disrupts the educational program. The Superintendent or designee shall document the impact the expression had or could be expected to have on the school program.

Legal Reference:
48907 Exercise of free expression; rules and regulations
48950 Speech and other communication
51520 Prohibited solicitations on school premises
Article 1, Section 2 Freedom of speech and expression
Amendment 1  Freedom of speech and expression
Lavine v. Blaine School District, (2001) 257 F.3d 981
Emmett v. Kirkland School District No. 415, (2000) 92 F.Supp. 2d 1088
J.S. v. Bethlehem Area School District, (2000) 757 A.2d 412 (Pa. Commw. 2000)
Beussink v. Woodland R-IV School District, (1998) 30 F. Supp. 2d 1175 (E.D. Mo. 1998)
Muller v. Jefferson Lighthouse School, (1996) 98 F.3d 1530
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, (1988) 108 S. Ct. 562
Leeb v. DeLong, (1988) 198 Cal.App.3d 47
Perumal et al. v. Saddleback Valley Unified School District, (1988) 198 Cal.App.3d 64
Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser, (1986) 478 U.S. 675
Collin v. Smith, (1978) 447 F.Supp.676, affd. (1978) 578 F.2d 1197, cert. den. (1978) 439 U.S. 916
Bright v. Los Angeles Unified School District, (1976) 134 Cal. Rptr. 639, 556 P.2d 1090, 18 Cal. 3d 350
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, (1969) 393 U.S. 503



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