Senate Bill 1370, which goes into effect today prohibits a school employee from being dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred or otherwise retaliated against for acting to protect a student's speech.
During the past two years, civil libertarians and First Amendment advocates have documented 16 instances of faculty advisers being disciplined for content in a student newspaper.
"We haven't seen this occur anywhere else in the country," Jim Ewert, legal counsel with the California Newspaper Publishers Association, said of the number of cases.
Ewert's organization was one of several – including the California Teachers Association and the California Labor Federation – that supported the bill by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco.
"Allowing a school administration 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," Yee said in a press release.
In 2006, Yee wrote legislation making California the first state to prohibit censorship of student press by administrators and to protect students from being disciplined for engaging in speech or press activities.
Yee spokesman Adam Keigwin said some school administrators "realized they could still go after the faculty."
The new bill is meant to close that loophole.
A commenter pointed out that our state government, which passed this bill, is run by the same political party that wants to eliminate conservative thought via the so-called Fairness Doctrine. Excellent point.
Incidentally, I support this new bill. I also oppose the Fairness Doctrine. Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but it's the bedrock of well-developed ones :-)