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Alhambra Unified School District School Publications Code

Alhambra Unified School District

School Publications Code

The Alhambra Unified School District (“District”) is committed to uphold the rights of each student to free expression, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, California Education Code Section 48907, Board Policy/Administrative Regulation 5145.2 and other California and federal laws and court decisions. Administrators and teacher advisors have the responsibility of protecting student rights while upholding the professional standards of English and journalism and maintaining ethical standards as well as contemporary community standards of good taste.

Every official student publication shall include the disclaimer that “the views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Alhambra Unified School District, its schools, administration, staff, and faculty.  Articles without bylines are the opinion of the publication’s staff.”

Official School Publications

1. Official  school  publications  shall  include  newspapers,  yearbooks,  literary  magazines, newsletters, and other journals, whether in printed format or online, which:

Are prepared by  current District students in journalism, newspaper, yearbook, writing, or other classes or by current District students in official school clubs or organizations.

Are supervised by a faculty advisor appointed by the school administration.

Are financed by funds provided by the District, ASB, or official school clubs or organizations.

Are published only during the school year and excludes holidays and breaks (winter, spring and summer). No official student publication shall be published during holidays and breaks.

All official online school publications shall be maintained on District servers.   No official school publications shall be maintained on any third party servers.

2. Purposes of official student publications shall be:

To provide an open forum for free expression by current District students.

To inform the entire school community by reporting on academic and extra-curricular programs, individuals, events, and/or analyzing issues of interest.

To assist the current District students, staff, and community in gaining insight into student thought and action.

To provide an opportunity for current District students to learn the skills and knowledge pertaining to journalism.

To provide an opportunity for creative expression through artistic and literary means.

3. District students shall have the right under United States and California law:

To determine the content of student publications.

To have proper access, within the law, to materials of general interest to their readers.

4. Prohibited Materials. School publications may not include any of the following prohibited materials which are not protected by the First Amendment, California Education Code, and other laws:

Material which is “obscene.”  This material is defined as obscene that meets the following criteria:

(1) the average person, applying current community standards, finds the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest,

(2)     the work is patently offensive, and

(3)     the work lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Libel.  The false and unprivileged publication or broadcast by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes a person to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency t o injure a person in his or her occupation.

Material which so incites students as to create a “clear and present danger” of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises or the violation of lawful District and/or school regulations, or the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of school. (Material which stimulates heated discussion or debate does not constitute the type of disruption prohibited by law.)

Copyrighted materials unless express, written consent is given in advance.

Advertisements for goods or services which are prohibited by law and administrative regulation, including advertisements which are inconsistent with school objective and do not  reasonably relate to the educational purpose of  school-sponsored publications.   (See, Board Policy and Administrative Regulation No. 1325, Advertising and Promotion.)

5. Responsibilities

Student journalists.  Student journalists for school publications shall be responsible for:

(1)    Preparing material that does not violate the restrictions outlined in Section 4 above, pertaining to Prohibited Materials.

(2)    Striving to prepare material based on professional standards of accuracy, objectivity, fair play, and good taste.

(3)    Meeting the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

Student editors.  Student editors of school publications shall be responsible for the content and editing of material for their publication, subject to restrictions outlined in Section 4 above, pertaining to Prohibited Materials. They should:

(1)     Ensure free expression by all students as guaranteed by the Education Code.

(2) Strive to produce a publication based on professional standards of accuracy, objectivity, fair play, and good taste.

(3) Edit material to ensure the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics is followed.

(4)     Check and verify all facts and verify the accuracy of all quotations.

(5) In the case of editorials or letters to the editor concerning controversial issues, determine the need for rebuttal comments and opinions and provide space therefore if appropriate, in the same issue if possible, but otherwise no later than in the following issue.

(6) Call the faculty advisor’s attention to any materials which they suspect are illegal, inaccurate, or otherwise inappropriate for publication.

(7) Distribute the publication in  an orderly manner which does not disrupt educational processes.

Faculty Advisors are responsible for:

(1)     Supervising the production of the student publication.

(2) Maintaining the provisions of California Education Code Section 48907 and the publications policies of the Alhambra Unified School District.

(3) Reviewing materials for publication in accordance with and upholding the provisions of this School Publications Code.

(4) Bringing the use of “Prohibited Material” in school publication to the Principal’s attention.

(5) Advertisements in student publication being consistent with and not violating Board Policy and Administrative Regulation No. 1325, Advertising and Promotion.

(6)     Teaching and maintaining professional standards of journalism and English.

(7)     Ensuring that Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics is followed.

(8) Selecting or assuming responsibility for the selection of student editors and staff.

Administrators are responsible for:

(1) Having the burden of showing justification without undue delay prior to any limitation of student expression in instances when speech is obscene, libelous, slanderous, or so incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises, the violation of lawful school regulations, or the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.

(2) Not employing overt or covert means to restrict student expression except those expressions prohibited by law and listed above under “Prohibited Materials.”

(3) Not requiring review of any student publication prior to distribution nor will they withhold any publication from distribution; however, they may request to examine sensitive material to determine accuracy and compliance with school policy and procedures.

(4) Not prohibiting the student newspaper from accepting advertising, except as prescribed in Number 4, Prohibited Materials, above.

(5) Being aware that under the “fair comment rule” students are free to express an opinion on a matter of public interest.

(6) Requiring student articles to include disclaimers, as appropriate and at the administrator’s direction.   (See, Administrative Regulation No. 5145.2, Freedom of Speech/Expression.)

6. Procedures for Resolution of Differences

The publication’s faculty advisor (or responsible certificated employee) shall review material submitted for publication; and, whenever it is proposed to refuse publication of certain material, the advisor shall, without undue delay, contact and advise the author of the refusal and the reasons therefore, and suggest how the material can be altered to make it appropriate for publication. The advisor shall immediately notify, in writing, the school principal of this action.

The author of the rejected material must appeal the rejection to the principal or his/her designee within three school days.

As soon as possible, but no more than three school days later, the school principal or his/her designee shall meet with the author to hear the appeal and render a decision, in writing.

Within three school days following receipt of the principal’s decision, the author may appeal to the Superintendent or designee. Within two school weeks, the Superintendent or his/her designee will review the written file and render a decision. It is recommended that the legal opinion of a practicing attorney be sought before a decision is made at this District level to refuse material for publication.

7.  Social Civility

All members involved in official student publications should strive to treat all persons with respect and in a professional and courteous manner at all times. Members should endeavor to cite only the truth as well has to respect a person’s privacy. Members should take responsibility for their own actions and work together with fellow students, faculty, and staff to ensure civility.

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