Senate Bill (SB) 438, signed into law August 17, 2010, makes Education Code sections 48907 and 48950 applicable to charter schools. Those sections guarantee freedom of speech and press rights to students in public schools. SB 438 clarifies that those protections apply to students in charter schools.
Education Code section 47610 generally exempts California charter schools from most of the Education Code provisions applicable to public schools. This is commonly referred to as the “mega waiver.” SB 438 clarifies that the intent behind the mega waiver was not to exempt charter schools from all laws governing student rights, including the right to exercise freedom of speech and the press. Effective January 1, 2011, the Education Code revisions will, among other things, prohibit charter schools from making or enforcing a rule that subjects a high school student to discipline based solely on conduct that is constitutionally protected speech or other communication. Additionally, charter schools will not be able to dismiss, suspend, discipline, reassign, transfer, or otherwise retaliate against their employees solely for acting to protect a student engaged in freedom of speech and/or press, or for refusing to infringe on a student’s protected speech rights.
Furthermore, charter schools will be required to adopt rules and regulations in the form of a written publications code which must include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner for students to exercise their freedom of speech and press. As a practical matter, charter authorizers should notify their authorized charter schools that the schools will need to adopt a written publications code to comply with the law.
If you have any questions regarding this matter, please call one of our five offices.
F3 NewsFlash prepared by Melanie Petersen and William Schuetz.
Melanie is a partner in the F3 San Marcos office.
William is an associate in the F3 Sacramento office.
This F3 NewsFlash is a summary only and not legal advice. We recommend that you consult with legal counsel to determine how this new law may apply to your specific facts and circumstances. Information on a free NewsFlash subscription can be found at www.fagenfriedman.com.
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