Introduced by Senator White of Windham District
Subject: Education; student rights; freedom of speech and press
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to ensure that students are afforded freedom of speech and press.
AN ACT RELATING TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND PRESS FOR STUDENTS
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 16 V.S.A. chapter 41 is added to read:
Chapter 41. STUDENT RIGHTS
§ 1621. FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND PRESS
(a) A public school student shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press, including use of bulletin boards; the distribution of printed materials or petitions; the wearing of buttons, badges, and other insignia; and expression in school-sponsored publications and other news media whether the publication or medium is supported financially by the school or by use of school facilities or is produced as part of a class.
(b) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to authorize speech or publication by a student which:
(1) is obscene;
(2) is libelous, slanderous, or defamatory;
(3) is false as to any person who is not a public figure or involved in a matter of public concern;
(4) creates a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts;
(5) violates a lawful school rule or policy;
(6) materially and substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school; or
(7) violates the rights of another to privacy.
(c) If participation in a school-sponsored publication is part of a school class or activity for which grades or school credits are given, this section shall not be interpreted to interfere with the authority of the teacher or publications advisor to establish or limit writing assignments for students and otherwise to direct and control the learning experience that the publication is intended to provide.
(d) No expression made by a student shall be deemed to be an expression of school policy, and no school district or employee, parent, legal guardian, or school district official shall be held liable in any civil or criminal action for any expression made or published by a student.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street