HillcrestBlog by "San Diego News Service" (619) 757-4909

"San Diego News Service" covers hard news, features and reviews for local and national print media, and maintains, "HillcrestBlog." Address: 3907 Georgia St., #15, San Diego 92103-3548. Our editor is Leo E. Laurence, J.D., Copy Ed.: Martin Brickson. Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Latino Journalists of California. Call news tips to (619) 757-4909 (days), Nights: (619) 220-8686 (fax also). leopowerhere@msn.com Copyright 2008 by San Diego News Service

Saturday, October 4, 2008

NEW LAW PROTECTS H.S. JOURNALISM TEACHERS

Sacramento -- San Diego high-school journalism teachers will get some new protections against retaliatory school principals on January 1st.
State law already mandates that student editors decide the content of official high-school newspapers. The only restriction is that their stories cannot create an "immediate" threat of disruption of classes, or (of course) be libelous.
However, locally, principals both Patrick Henry and Kearny high schools have flagrantly and intentionally violated that state law, and censored their school newspapers.
"If we are supposed to respect the law, why shouldn't the school administration be required to so the same thing," a Patrick Henry journalism student once said after the school's administration flatantly censored an edition of the school's newpaper, The Patriot.
The new law - recently signed by the governor - protects a journalism teacher of school-newspaper advisor from being "dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against" for solely acting to protect the pupil's free-speech, or for refusing an administrator[s order ti illegally censor speech, according to a report by the Student Press Law Center.
"Allowing a school administrator (as happened at Patrick Henry high) to censor in any way is contrary to the democratic process and the ability of a student newspaper to serve as the watchdog and bring sunshine to the actions of school administrators," said Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) who introduced the successful legislation.
"We get phone calls from (high school) journalism advisors who have to choose between either violating the law by censoring a (student) newspaper or facing potential retaliation from administrators," said Adam Keigwin, Yee's communications director.
"While this law makes the workplace safer for teachers, the real beneficiaries are California (high-school journalism) students, who no longer must fear that honest reporting on school events will get their favorite teacher fired," said Frank D. LaMonte, Student Press Law Center executive director.
Yee's legislation had strong support from the California Newspaper Publisher's association, but encountered some opposition from school and college administrators who claimed that it would tie their hands in removing educators who fail to do their jobs.
The focus of the legislation, however, is on high-school administrators who violate the law and censor school newspapers.
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Copyright, 2008 by journalist Leo E. Laurence leopowerhere@msn.com (619) 757-4909

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