Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

Cobb County Lets Students Speak

Posted by Maggie on October 2, 2007

Lately I’ve been troubled by the state of student free speech rights. We have the troubling Bong Hits 4 Jesus case which allows administrators more freedom to deter student speech–even off campus. And since then, over the summer, I’ve read of several more cases where students are disciplined for speech that isn’t on campus. (This Connecticut case springs to mind.) Judges seem happy to let administrators make whatever decisions they want and give little weight to the student.

Bizarrely, in Cobb County, there is a different approach. A student wrote an anti-gay editorial for the student paper. Maybe not the wisest thing to publish, certainly not something I’d agree with, but all the same I think he has a right to say it. I’m surprised by the comments of school officials:

Principal Trudie Donovan said Monday that she had reviewed the article before it was published last Friday, but said she had no authority to censor it. “My job is the safety and security of the school, not censorship,” she said.

Cobb County schools spokesman Jay Dillon said principals have no legal standing to say articles of student opinion can’t be printed.

While I’m completely against censorship, I would think school officials have the authority to edit (and thus censor) their school publications. So I’m not sure they’re exactly on point, but I’m happy to see that they don’t see it as their place. I wish this kind of attitude was more prevalent.

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