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3220P - Freedom of Expression Procedures

A. General Standards for Student Expression

Students will enjoy the privilege of free verbal and written expression provided such expression does not disrupt the operation of the school and does not unduly impinge on the rights of others. The principal has the authority to monitor student verbal and written expression. Teachers have the authority to reasonably and neutrally regulate classroom speech to facilitate student learning. Students who violate the standards for verbal and written expression may be subject to corrective action or discipline.

For purposes other than curricular student publications, which are subject to the more specific prohibitions set forth below, the following types of student verbal and written expression are not allowed and may be restricted:

  1. Expression for which there is evidence reasonably supporting a forecast of disruption or interference with school activities, which cannot be prevented by reasonably available, less restrictive means. To be deemed disruptive for purposes of this rule, there must exist specific facts upon which it would be reasonable to forecast a clear and present likelihood of an immediate, material, and substantial disruption to normal school activity if the content were published or expressed. Specific facts may include past experience in the school and current events influencing student behavior, as opposed to undifferentiated fear or apprehension. Disruption includes, but is not limited to: student riots or violence; destruction of property; widespread violent shouting; substantial student participation in a school boycott, sit-in, stand-in, walk-out or other related form of activity; student trauma; or the inability of students to focus, receive instruction, and learn.
  2. Content construed to be unsuitable for minors, as determined based on the same rules applicable to instructional materials.
  3. Libelous or slanderous content. An expression will be considered libelous or slanderous when it includes defamatory falsehoods about an individual or organization. This includes defamatory falsehoods about public figures or governmental officials made with actual malice; that is, with knowledge or reckless disregard of falsity.
  4. Lewd, obscene, indecent, or profane content, including when the language would violate Federal Communication Commission rules or regulations. Obscene expressions are those that, applying contemporary community standards, appeal to prurient interests; depict or describe in a patently offensive way sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable state law; and taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
  5. Content that invades the privacy of others. Such occurrences may include exploitation of someone’s personality; publications of someone's private affairs with which the public has no legitimate concern; or wrongful intrusion into someone's private activities in a manner that can cause mental suffering, shame, or humiliation to a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities.
  6. Expression that demeans, disparages, or otherwise discriminates against others in violation of 3210 or 3210P.
  7. Expression that bullies, harasses, or intimidates in violation of 3207 or 3207P.
  8. Expression that violates, or incites students to violate, federal or state laws, rules, or regulations, or District administrative regulations or procedures.

Off-campus expression, including the use of social media, may be subject to the same standards and requirements of this Regulation and its procedures if there is a sufficient nexus to the school. Relevant factors include the degree and likelihood of harm to the school, whether it is reasonably foreseeable the speech would reach and impact the school, and the relation between the content and context of the speech and the school. There is always a sufficient nexus when the District reasonably concludes that it faces a credible, identifiable threat of school violence.

B. Curricular Student Publications

  1. Scope and Definitions. This section governs (a) “curricular student publications,” meaning any material prepared under the direction of a teacher or other designated District staff member that is prepared, substantially written, published, or broadcast by students and distributed or generally made available to members of the student body; and (b) “student journalists,” meaning any student who gathers, compiles, writes, edits, photographs, records, or prepares information for dissemination in official student publications. 
  2. Responsibilities of Student Journalists. Student journalists will be taught,   consistent with professional standards of journalism, to:
    1. determine the content of the student publication in accordance with prescribed standards and this procedure;
    2. strive to produce a publication based upon professional standards of accuracy, objectivity, fair play, and language;
    3. review material to improve journalistic style, sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation;
    4. check and verify all facts and verify the accuracy of all quotations;
    5. approach controversial topics with academic rigor and with a variety of viewpoints considered, explained, and discussed;
    6. in the case of editorials or letters to the editor concerning controversial    issues, determine the need for rebuttal comments and opinions and provide space if appropriate;
    7. be sensitive to individuals' right to privacy and to ethnic, religious, and moral differences; and
    8. avoid disparagement of other persons or groups.
  3. 3. Responsibilities of Publications Advisors. Staff members advising student     publications and student journalists:
    1. will be knowledgeable in the rights and responsibilities of student journalists and will keep current on legal issues related to school publications; and
    2. will be responsible for teaching:
      1. professional standards of accuracy, objectivity, and fair play;
      2. journalistic style, including usage, sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation; and
      3. the provisions of this Regulation and its procedures.
  4. Prohibited Material. Consistent with RCW 28A.600.027, student editors are generally responsible for determining the news, opinions, features, and advertising content of official student publications, but are strictly prohibited from including any material that:
    1. is libelous or slanderous;
    2. is obscene, indecent, or profane in violation of Federal Communication Commission rules or regulations;
    3. incites students so as to create a clear and present danger of (i) an unlawful act on school premises, (ii) a violation of a District administrative regulation or procedure, or (iii) a material and substantial disruption of the school, forecasted based on specific facts;
    4. invades the privacy of others;
    5. demeans, disparages, or otherwise discriminates against others in violation of 3210 or 3210P;
    6. bullies, harasses, or intimidates in violation of 3207 or 3207P; or
    7. violates or incites students to violate federal or state laws, rules, or regulations, including advertisement of tobacco products, liquor, illicit drugs, or drug paraphernalia.

Curricular student publications may accept advertising. Acceptance or rejection of advertising is within the discretion of the student editors, who may accept any ads except those prohibited by this Regulation or by federal or state law. In exercising this discretion, student editors should take account of general legal standards governing the use and management of public facilities, including state law restrictions on the use of public resources for electoral advocacy or religious/irreligious proselytizing, especially by non-students, and the requirements of reasonableness and viewpoint neutrality for the management of any limited public forum for private speech. The District’s standards for third party advertising in 4238 do not govern but are intended serve as a useful reference for student editors in managing advertisements.

  1. Distribution. The administration is responsible for reasonably regulating the time, place, and manner of distribution of curricular student publications.
  2. District Review. School administrators or designated advisors may intervene prior to distribution of a curricular student publication only to prevent the publication of content that is prohibited under this Regulation, or to prevent distribution that would violate applicable time, place, and manner requirements.
  3. Advisor Rights. The advisor is not a censor. The advisor may only exclude unprotected, prohibited material from the publication. No teacher who advises a curricular student publication will be fired, transferred, removed from the advisorship, or otherwise disciplined for refusing to suppress the protected free expression of student journalists.
  4. Liability. The District and school assume no liability for the content of any student publication and urge all student journalists to recognize that with editorial control comes responsibility, including the responsibility to follow professional journalism standards. Expression made by students in curricular student publications is not necessarily the expression of school policy. Each publication must include a conspicuous disclaimer that restates the above provisions of this Liability section in substantially similar form.

C. Student Distribution of Materials

The following procedures have been put into place for the time, place, and manner of any student distribution of publications, materials, and promotions that are non-curriculum related and not affiliated with the name of the school:

  1. The school will describe the time and place distribution is allowed (e.g., before or after school, in a commons area).
  2. Distribution of material cannot be haphazard. Materials may only be passed on to individuals who willingly accept them.
  3. The student will affix labels provided by the school to each flyer or handout. The labels will state: “This message is not endorsed by or affiliated with [Name of School].”
  4. The distributer’s conduct and materials must be in accordance with this Regulation and its procedures, including by not disrupting the operation of school or impinging upon the rights of others.



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