Editorial: Protecting student press rights should be a priority


Crystal Sung

The Journalism Staff has relocated to Room 212. Photo credit Crystal Sung.

Crystal Sung, Editor in Chief

            on behalf of the 2018-19 Editorial Board

Teenagers all across the country learn to drive by getting behind the wheel. Students learn anatomy through dissections, choreography through practice, chemistry through experiments. Aspiring journalists are no different.

We, the staff of the Crimson at Classical Academy High School, hold that high school students have the freedom of speech without prior review or prior restraint from administration. Just as a parent would not take over driving for the teenager, or a teacher conduct the dissection for the student, interference by administration only subjects the high standards of truth-seeking to the demands and biases of another party.

Both federal and state law protects student press rights. Beyond the First Amendment’s clause regarding freedom of speech and press, the Supreme Court affirmed in the 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines case that students do not “shed their Constitutional rights to freedom of expression at the schoolhouse gate.” While the subsequent Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier case has added restrictions, state law predates and therefore counters those limits. California Education Code 48907, also known as the California Student Free Expression Law, protects any content of an official student publication with the exceptions of obscenities, libel, and slander. This applies to public charter schools like ours.

The Crimson, the official media and news source produced and published by students, was established as a designated public forum for student editors to inform and educate their readers, as well as discuss issues of concern to their audience. Therefore, it is critical that our credibility not be compromised through any type of review or restraint by school officials prior to publication or distribution, according to state law.

If to these purposes sensitive topics are raised, we will treat matters with maturity under the leadership of our adviser and Editorial Board. Because the publication is determined by and reflects only the views of the student staff, not school officials or the school itself, the student editorial board and staff members will assume complete legal and financial liability for all content.

We believe that these rights to free speech and a free press are the cornerstone of our democratic society. When youth speak truth to power, power should listen, not silence. On our part, we will strive to maintain journalistic integrity and seek the truth to the best of our ability in all reporting.