1. Home
  2. Knowledge Base
  3. Student Journalism Rights and Risks
  4. California’s High Barrier against Censorship
  5. What does Education Code §48907 say?

The section is reprinted verbatim below, and then immediately reorganized and repunctuated to make certain patterns more evident.

Students of the public schools shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press including, but not limited to, the use of bulletin boards, the distribution of printed materials or petitions, the wearing of buttons, badges, and other insignia, and the right of expression in official publications, whether or not such publications or other means of expression are supported financially by the school or by use of school facilities, except that expression shall be prohibited which is obscene, libelous, or slanderous.  Also prohibited shall be 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 school regulations, or the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.

Each governing board of a school district and each county board of education shall adopt rules and regulations in the form of a written publications code, which shall include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of conducting such activities within its respective jurisdiction.

Student editors of official school publications shall be responsible for assigning and editing the news, editorial, and feature content of their publications subject to the limitations of this section.  However, it shall be the responsibility of a journalism adviser or advisers of student publications within each school to supervise the production of the student staff, to maintain professional standards of English and journalism, and to maintain the provisions of this section.

There shall be no prior restraint of material prepared for official school publications except insofar as it violates this section.  School officials shall have the burden of showing justification without undue delay prior to any limitation of student expression under this section.

“Official school publications” refers to material produced by students in the journalism, newspaper, yearbook, or writing classes and distributed to the student body either free or for a fee.

Nothing in this section shall prohibit or prevent any governing board of a school district from adopting otherwise valid rules and regulations relating to oral communication by students upon the premises of each school.

Section 48907, as reorganized and repunctuated for clarity (italicized headings and underlining not in the original):

Rights and Restrictions

Students of the public schools shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press including, but not limited to:

  • the use of bulletin boards,
  • the distribution of printed materials or petitions,
  • the wearing of buttons, badges, and other insignia, and
  • the right of expression in official publications (material produced by students in the journalism, newspaper, yearbook, or writing classes and distributed to the student body either free or for a fee), whether or not such publications or other means of expression are supported financially by the school or by use of school facilities, except that expression shall be prohibited which:
  • is obscene, libelous, or slanderous; (or)
  • 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 school regulations, or
    • the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.

There shall be no prior restraint of material prepared for official school publications except insofar as it violates this section. School officials shall have the burden of showing justification without undue delay prior to any limitation of student expression under this section.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Each governing board of a school district and each county board of education shall adopt rules and regulations in the form of a written publications code, which shall include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of conducting such activities within its respective jurisdiction.  Nothing in this section shall prohibit or prevent any governing board of a school district from adopting otherwise valid rules and regulations relating to oral communication by students upon the premises of each school.
  • Student editors of official school publications shall be responsible for assigning and editing the news, editorial, and feature content of their publications subject to the limitations of this section.
  • However, it shall be the responsibility of a journalism adviser or advisers of student publications within each school:
    • to supervise the production of the student staff,
    • to maintain professional standards of English and journalism, and
    • to maintain the provisions of this section.