DHS Student Describes Being Threatened By Police, Betrayed by School Staff

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Art-or-Vand.pngLast week, the ACLU sent a letter to Superintendent Winfred Roberson alleging that on the morning of May 12, 2011, a Davis High Student, Alana de Hinojosa “was pulled out of her class at Davis High in front of her teacher and all her classmates, and escorted by a school staff member to the office of the head campus supervisor. There, Ms. de Hinojosa was questioned by a sworn officer of the Davis Police Department, Officer Ellsworth, the High School’s vice-principal, and another school staff member about her newspaper article.”

The ACLU claims that at no point was she informed of her right not to answer questions or advised that she was free to leave the room.

Ms. de Hinojosa spoke to the Vanguard late last week. In her account she described the Davis police officer, Officer Ellsworth, as threatening her with legal and other consequences should she not turn over the names of individuals she interviewed when she wrote an article on graffiti artists and taggers.

She also described a school district individual – supposedly acting in loco parentis (in the place of the parent) with a stated policy of having a staff member appear at interviews with police as an advocate, but who acted more as co-conspirator than advocate.

To be fair, both the Davis Police Department and school district deny the charges made by the ACLU.  Superintendent Roberson disagrees with the ACLU’s letter and called their report “one-sided.”

Lt. Paul Doroshov of the Davis Police Department told the Vanguard, “Davis Police Officers are trained to preserve and protect student rights…and always follow the law. Such was the case with regard to the situation the ALCU commented on.”

He added, “The alleged facts as cited by the ACLU statement, which relies on only one side of the story, differ significantly from the facts as we understand them to be.”

On April 27, 2011, an article in the Davis High HUB entitled “Art or Vandalism,” was written under the byline of Alana de Hinojosa, Editor-in-Chief.  The article featured actual photos of what some considered gang taggings.

Ms. de Hinojosa described herself as a fan of graffiti. “I think that there are a lot of graffiti artists who are I believe are true artists and I think they have a message.”

“I think that graffiti has a story to tell and I don’t think there are many people that are open to that or believe that,” she said.

She said that she did not expect any issues, however she is glad she did not do what she originally intended, which was to go out with these individuals on their excursion and report on her observations.

“I talked to my advisor, she advised that I not do that,” Ms. De Hinojosa said.  “I’m very happy that I did not.”

“Other than that, I knew I had done nothing wrong,” she said.  She thought that if she did not disclose any names, that no one would get into trouble.  She presented both sides of the story.

“I didn’t expect there’d be any trouble at all and even when I was pulled out of class and asked why I was being pulled out of class, I wasn’t told,” she said.

She was pulled out of class by a campus supervisor but he refused to tell her why she was being pulled out of class.

“I was told to go to the head campus supervisor’s office,” she said.  “I went there, that woman was there and I asked her and she said that I would have to wait. And she didn’t tell me why I was in that room.”

She waited in the room for ten minutes when finally the Vice Principle, Campus Supervisor and SRO (Student Resource Officer) walked into the room.

“I still did not know what was happening until that officer pulled out a copy of my article and put it on the desk right in front of me,” Ms. De Hinojosa described.

She continued, “He said, ‘This is a very serious matter, you need to comply with what I ask you to do. If you don’t, there will be very serious consequences.’ And then he began asking me a lot of questions.”

This was not a friendly conversation.  From the start, the officer was threatening her with very serious consequences should she not comply.

“He was doing his job. I understand that this officer was simply doing his job and I get that,” she said.  “But he coerced me, he intimidated me and he lied to me.”

“I said I was sorry. I [had] explained to these individuals that I would not give out their names. I gave them my word. I won’t go against my word,” she explained.  “I know that I’m a student journalist and that I have First Amendment rights.  I’m not going to disclose these people’s names.”

“As soon as I said that, he began telling me that I would be liable in court, that the court would easily force me to give their names and that I would have a felony charge on my name,” she said.

At no point did she think to ask for an attorney.  Instead, “As he was telling me these things, I just continued to apologize and say I’m sorry I can’t help you, but that wasn’t good enough.  He continued to work me and continued to intimidate and threaten me.”

After an hour in the room, Officer Ellsworth finally told Alana de Hinojosa that she could leave and return to class.  But only after they confiscated her cell phone, and it would not be returned until an hour after school ended.

“Soon after this incident, I was pulled out again by Officer Ellsworth and this time I was in a room with just him, which I now know is against school board policy,” she said.

She told the Vanguard that Pam Mari had told her, “The district has followed policy because they had school staff personnel in the room with me.  According to school policy if a student is being questioned by the police, a staff member needs to be there to support that student.”

The key point is that the staff member is supposed to act as an advocate for students and protect their lives.  However, as Alana de Hinojosa describes it, the staff member worked with the officer to get her to give up the information.

“In the first incident, the simple body language told me these staff members were not on my side. They were on the other side of the room, beside where the officer was and they were not only inside the other room facing me but they were saying things that the officer was saying, they were telling me I should help this officer,” she said.

She continued, “I remember that [the staff member was] talking about how upset she gets… how it is a crime and an awful thing to do. They made me feel like an awful person for refusing to comply with what this officer was telling me.”

Worse yet, the second incident had no staff present at all, a clear violation of district policy.

“So, in the second incident it was just me and Officer Ellsworth. It makes me wonder if the staff was even aware that he even pulled me out that second time,” she said.

It was after the second time that she realized that she needed help.  The first time had scared and worried her, but she was unsure that its severity required her to reach out for help.

“After I was pulled out the second time and Officer Ellsworth told me that this case has become a full blown investigation and that I would go to court and that I will have a felony charge if I did not provide them the names this time,” she said.

It was this time that she said that she needed her parents and legal counsel to be here with her.  She told Officer Ellsworth that she would not talk unless one of those people were present with her.

He told her fine, but “you are eventually going to have to tell me these things, you know that, right?”

“I said I’m sorry I can’t talk to you right now, and I left and that’s when I called the ACLU of Northern California.  I spoke to someone on the phone and explained to him what happened,” she continued.

Three hours later Linda Lye of the ACLU, who is serving as her current attorney, would call her back.

Once she called the ACLU and the ACLU sent a short letter to the school district, the efforts of the officers to come after her stopped.

“It just didn’t make sense for the school to comply with what this officer was doing when it didn’t happen on school grounds,” she said, “I have journalism rights protecting me, I have student rights protecting me, and this is also for the convenience of the officer.”

“I think they realized I didn’t do anything worth pursuing after that and I believe at least the police department understood that as well. So nothing happened after that,” she said.

She said that she wants the public to understand that she was an adult at the time that this happened, she was taking AP Government and studying journalism.

“For two years, I knew my rights, I understand that and I understand the school is not required to give me my Miranda rights, my Miranda warnings. But I just feel, I feel very strongly that the school acting as loco parentis shouldn’t have let that happen,” she said.

“I felt like trash in that room,” she added.  “I was so stripped down to the very core that I felt so vulnerable, that I had no option. I had actually no options and I wasn’t told that I could leave, or told that I could call my parents.”

In the letter to Superintendent Roberson that the Vanguard obtained, the ACLU wrote, “We have grave concerns about recent incidents in which these students [referring to the photographer in this incident] were removed from class and subjected to prolonged, coercive interrogations, without parental consent or prior notification.”

“Each student was taken to a private office where they were confronted by a uniformed police officer from the Davis Police Department and high level school officials, who used threat and intimidation to pressure the students to provide information about suspected off-campus conduct by other students,” the letter continued.

“Neither student was suspected of any wrongdoing,” they added.

Critically, they pointed out that the activities the students participated in are “protected by the First Amendment and California Constitution,” however, they were “made to feel like criminals for attempting to exercise their constitutional right to remain silent.  Indeed, they were not even afforded the rights owed to actual criminal suspects.”

The ACLU in their letter asked for four changes to school policies: (1)   Revise existing policies on police interrogations; (2)   Train school personnel about students’ rights with respect to law enforcement officers; (3)   Advise students of their rights with respect to law enforcement officers before any on-campus police interrogations; and (4)   Prohibit law enforcement personnel from interrogating students on District property without first obtaining parental consent.

Superintendent Roberson responded, “The district has attempted and continues to shape its policies and practices regarding the questioning of students on campus by law enforcement to cooperate with police investigations, maintain and uphold student rights and ensure that the district itself is acting in accord with the law.”

He added, “Public school officials have a duty to cooperate with police investigations.”

Furthermore, he argued that the district already works to provide “ongoing training about students’ rights to personnel that interacts with law enforcement officers.”

In terms of the question about the questioning of students, he offered that it is currently “the district’s policy to stay with the student during the interview unless the student declines or our presence is prohibited on statutory grounds.  This is required Protocol for Police Investigations.”

Mr. Roberson added, “District policy requires (BP 5145.11 and BP 5145.12) that parents and/or guardians are notified as soon as possible when a law enforcement officer interviews a student on school premises.   However, school personnel are required by law to refrain from willfully resisting, delaying or obstructing law enforcement personnel in the discharge of their official duties.”

“California law has long recognized that law enforcement personnel have the right to question students at school without parental consent,” he added.

Superintendent Roberson further pointed out, “If a student is removed from school grounds by a peace officer, law enforcement is required to notify parents and/or custodians of the student’s removal.  In addition, the district’s policy and practice is to also immediately notify parents of the student’s contact with and removal by law enforcement.”

However, the Sacramento Bee talked to a couple of legal experts who questioned the district’s actions.

Gabriel Chin, a UC Davis law professor, told the Bee he deemed the district’s actions as “dubious.”

Hospitals have similar obligations not to hinder investigations, “but that doesn’t mean they pull somebody out of an operation,” he told the paper.

Furthermore, Samantha Buckingham, a professor at Loyola Law School, indicated that students questioned at school by police is not only unusual, but clearly in this case was not justified.

The district has argued that, “Those facts don’t line up with ours.”  However, at the same time, they would not go into details.

Alana de Hinojosa proved to be articulate, calm and detailed in her account.  The district needs to figure out if district policies were followed.  Others have told the Vanguard that for some time the district has been warned that their policies and the protections provided to students are inadequate.

Moreover, there have been concerns about the level of appropriateness it is to have a School Resource Officer.  The idea is to have a closer relationship between police and students; however, incidents like this can undermine that level of trust.

In light of that, the Vanguard asked Superintendent Roberson his level of comfort with the role that the Davis Police Department plays on high school campuses.

“We’re fortunate,” Superintendent Roberson explained to the Vanguard, “Davis PD works with the school district and we do have a resource officer at our secondary schools.”

“I am comfortable with the role that the Davis Police Department [plays] and our partnership,” he said.  “Our resource officer is exactly that, he is a resource for students as well as our staff there at the site.”

As we noted yesterday, we may never know the truth as to what happened in this incident, and that is a concerning possibility.  From what Ms. de Hinojosa described, however, it is concerning that an SRO would be conducting an interview with a student, using those kinds of heavy handed tactics – regardless of whether or not he was legally permitted to do so.

The ACLU remains concerned that actions by the police and school officers were prompted by the lawful exercise of the students’ constitutionally protected right to report on newsworthy issues.

“Relatedly, the use of threats and intimidation during the interrogations interfered with both students’ exercise of their rights – to write newspaper articles, to assist others in doing so, to make documentary films, and to decline to answer questions by law enforcement or other government officials,” Ms. Lye wrote in the letter to the district.

“In this regard, Officer Ellsworth and District personnel violated the Bane Act, which prohibits interference or attempts to interfere ‘with the exercise or enjoyment’ of federal or state rights ‘by threats, intimidation, or coercion,’ ” the letter continued.

“We expect our schools to educate our children, not criminalize them,” said Ms. Lye in the ACLU’s press release.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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26 thoughts on “DHS Student Describes Being Threatened By Police, Betrayed by School Staff”

  1. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]The ACLU in their letter asked for four changes to school policies: (1) Revise existing policies on police interrogations; (2) Train school personnel about students’ rights with respect to law enforcement officers; (3) Advise students of their rights with respect to law enforcement officers before any on-campus police interrogations; and (4) Prohibit law enforcement personnel from interrogating students on District property without first obtaining parental consent.[/quote]

    This is it in a nutshell – the school policy needs to be changed. So long as the current loosey-goosey policy is in place, there is the chance of a repeat performance. I would also add one more thing – the school should more closely scrutinize articles to be published. The student in this case checked with school staff and was given the go ahead. So the student would have no way of knowing that this article might get her in trouble. This is where the school played a woefully inadequate part. I would strongly urge the school board to take a close look at school policy, and encourage revisions as suggested above…

  2. Ryan Kelly

    It looks like the school administrator failed this student. She obviously doesn’t understand her role in these types of interviews. A mere physical presence does not satisfy the reasons for the policy (protection and advocacy), if the administrator participates in the interrogation, regardless of Pam Mari’s assertions that the policy was followed. The administration needs to explain why her parents were not contacted immediately. Being “busy” is not a valid reason. The only valid consideration is that there is some school safety situation that physically prevents the administration from calling immediately.

  3. Mr.Toad

    Cop leans on kid! As Gomer would have said, “Surprise, surprise, surprise.”

    No Miranda warning, no problem, kid not target of investigation.

    Kid stays cool, calls ACLU. Well done kid! Thank your DJUSD teachers for teaching you well.

    District personnel screw up, support investigation through intimidation, district circles wagons. Business as usual.

  4. JustSaying

    [i][quote]“I know that I’m a student journalist and that I have First Amendment rights. I’m not going to disclose these people’s names….I have journalism rights protecting me….”[/quote][/i]And these are? So, she checked with the newspaper advisor? Too bad our student editor hadn’t gotten a realistic picture of what she might be facing if she published a story about lawbreakers this way. This was the first failing–one of poor student journalism education and counsel–if what Miss de Hinojosa and you report is accurate. [quote]“She said that she did not expect any issues, however she is glad she did not do what she originally intended, which was to go out with these individuals on their excursion and report on her observations. ‘I talked to my advisor, she advised that I not do that’, Ms. De Hinojosa said. ‘I’m very happy that I did not….Other than that, I knew I had done nothing wrong, she said. She thought that if she did not disclose any names, that no one would get into trouble. She presented both sides of the story.”[/quote][i][quote]“Once she called the ACLU and the ACLU sent a short letter to the school district, the efforts of the officers to come after her stopped.” [/quote][/i] Are you saying she was held for hours while everyone awaited the ALCU’s response? Or that there is a cause-effect relationship between the ALCU’s involvement and the fact that the SRO had finished questioning her?

    The ALCE’s four-part request seems very reasonable, and the district should jump on this approach for improved future understanding. We’ll see if there’s a Bane Act violation here

  5. Alphonso

    [b]““To be fair, both the Davis Police Department and school district deny the charges made by the ACLU. Superintendent Roberson disagrees with the ACLU’s letter and called their report “one-sided”. Lt. Paul Doroshov of the Davis Police Department told the Vanguard, “Davis Police Officers are trained to preserve and protect student rights…and always follow the law. Such was the case with regard to the situation the ALCU commented on.”He added, “The alleged facts as cited by the ACLU statement, which relies on only one side of the story, differ significantly from the facts as we understand them to be.””[/b]

    To be fair to the student, I will add Mr. Doroshov is the most unreliable police officer I have ever spoken with. I once asked him about an incident and he was dishonest about his actions, where he was located during the incident as well as the actions and location of another officer. How do I know? – I had talked to numerous witnesses and visited the location before I called Mr. Doroshov [b]AND[/b] the other police officer later wrote a police report that essentially contradicted everything Mr. Doroshov told me over the phone. I am sure police officers have better days than others and perhaps he is generally an honest person. However, I will never trust any police officer statement ever again after listening to Mr. Doroshov’s BS. IMO if Mr. Doroshov is the Davis Police spokesperson, there is a serious police information problem!
    Several times a year I get phone calls from the County Sheriffs people asking for donations. I refuse to donate and I explain why – I tell them about my experience with Davis Police officers and I end the conversation by reminding the caller to never lie to the public, ever!

  6. AdRemmer

    [quote]I will never trust any police officer statement ever again after listening to Mr. Doroshov’s BS[/quote]

    So, then do also not trust any US President because disbarred & impeached ex-president, Bill Clinton, lied too?

  7. David M. Greenwald

    “Are you saying she was held for hours while everyone awaited the ALCU’s response? Or that there is a cause-effect relationship between the ALCU’s involvement and the fact that the SRO had finished questioning her? “

    As I understand it, she left Officer Ellsworth’s questioning, called the ACLU, got a call back from them three hours later, and then they sent a letter to the school and after that the police and district did not pursue the matter against her. Whether there is a causal effect, she doesn’t know.

    The DA’s office did continue to pursue the matter with the other student however. To my knowledge they have dropped that as well.

  8. Ryan Kelly

    “The DA’s office did continue to pursue the matter with the other student however. To my knowledge they have dropped that as well.”

    That would be Asst. DA Patti Fong. Hopefully, she has dropped her actions against the other student, who is still a minor. Fong would not be the one filing charges against Ms. de Hinojosa – an adult.

  9. JustSaying

    [quote][i]”Several times a year I get phone calls from the County Sheriffs people asking for donations. I refuse to donate and I explain why – I tell them about my experience with Davis Police officers and I end the conversation by reminding the caller to never lie to the public, ever!”[/i][/quote]Although AdRemmer may be correct regarding how you make decisions about our dedicated first responders, you might not be having the impact you expect you’re having.*

    I wonder whether County Sheriff employees actually are on the phone….

    __________________________________
    *From Scambusters.org: One useful resource (not only for checking out police and firefighting charities) is CharityNavigator.org. They have a Top 10 list of the 10 charities that most overpay their for-profit fundraisers. Five of the top 10 charities on this list have the words “police” and “firefighters” in their name! These charities spend 85% to 95% of their donations on expenses and fundraising fees, leaving only 5% to 15% to be used for their stated purposes.

  10. Robin W

    How could a school administrator ever act as support for the student vis-a-vis the police when school administrators routinely act as adjuncts of the police by interrogating students and performing intrusive searches on students, and then calling in the police to arrest the students if they discover anything?

    I have also been told by administrators that they never even attempt to call the parents until after the interrogation and/or search is finished and until after the police have spoken with the student and either cited or arrested the student. Even Principal Roberson’s statement in the article makes it clear that, rather than notifying parents as soon as possible (as is required by district policy), administrators do not attempt to notify parents until the police have finished with the student.

    It is extremely disheartening to hear that the School Resource Officer is the police officer who conducted the interrogation in this case. The reason for having a School Resource Officer is not to have a cop on site for faster interrogation and intimidation of students.

    Our current school board seems to have its head in the right place on most matters. They should adopt the ACLU’s recommended policies as soon as possible. But they need to do more. As is the case in many areas of what goes on inside our schools (especially with regard to student discipline), the school board needs to take a more active role in ensuring that the policies it adopts are followed.

  11. Superfluous Man

    ERM, “I would also add one more thing – the school should more closely scrutinize articles to be published.”

    Fortunately, it seems CA law protects student journalists from the level of censorship you are advocating for.

    Wikipedia “Ed Code 48907 affirms the right of high school newspapers to publish whatever they choose, so long as the content is not explicitly obscene, libelous, or slanderous.”

    Students have editorial control and the school official’s role is primarily an advisory one…to ”supervise the production of the student staff, to maintain professional standards of English and journalism, and to maintain the provisions of this section.”

    As to whether her story disrupted school as it relates to this section, it think it’s clear this case would not meet that threshold, but maybe you have done the research and would care to share? I think you’re being too liberal with what constitutes a school disruption here.

  12. Superfluous Man

    JustSaying,

    “And these [referenced First Amendment Rights] are?

    Wikipedia “California Education Code 48907 (1977) acts as a counter to the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988) Supreme Court ruling, which limited the freedom of speech granted to public high school newspapers. The Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier decision held that public school curricular student newspapers that have not been established as ‘forums for student expression’ are subject to a lower level of First Amendment protection than independent student expression or newspapers established (by policy or practice) as forums for student expression. Ed Code 48907 affirms the right of high school newspapers to publish whatever they choose, so long as the content is not explicitly obscene, libelous, or slanderous. The newspaper content must also pass the minimal disruption test set forth in the Supreme Court ruling on Tinker v. Des Moines (1969). In contrast with Hazelwood, which limited First Amendment Protection to only those high school newspapers that had, through practice or policy, been established as forums for student expression, Ed Code 48907 affirms the right of all newspapers to the freedom of expression.”

    IOW, she had a protected right to research, write and publish that story, not to mention withold the identities of the subjects of said story.

    “So, she checked with the newspaper advisor?”

    Sounds like the advisor acted properly. Advised the student journalist not tag along with the taggers, yet allowed her (as she is to by law) to produce and publish the story about these taggers and the question: is it art or graffiti?

  13. JustSaying

    [quote][i]”It is extremely disheartening to hear that the School Resource Officer is the police officer who conducted the interrogation in this case. The reason for having a School Resource Officer is not to have a cop on site for faster interrogation and intimidation of students.”[/i][/quote]I agree. If objectives include improving student relations with police and encouraging students to warn the SRO of possible problems at schools, this could be a real setback.

    There was no urgent need to interrogate; it could have awaited different investigators who might have decided it would be better to ignore this episode.”[i][quote]Sounds like the advisor acted properly. Advised the student journalist not tag along with the taggers, yet allowed her (as she is to by law) to produce and publish….”[/quote][/i]”Tag along with the taggers,” you say! I think the advisor also should have let her know how common it is for law enforcement to follow up on stories that make it obvious a reporter has intimate knowledge of crimes that have been committed and by whom.

    We shouldn’t have a student contending “that she did not expect any issues….” after she went for advice from the responsible educator. (That doesn’t get to what responsibilities the principal figures the advisor had to the school leadership. A little “heads up” might have kept officials from goofing up this one.)

    I agree that California has a very expansive view of student journalist rights. I don’t think they’re Constitutionally protected, but bestowed by state law specifically written to circumvent earlier First Amendment decisions that school newspaper privileges. But, heck, I’m no judge.

    Anyway, thanks for the citations. It’s interesting to see how many states have carved out special rights for student expression. And, this young woman certainly knew her law; she should get an “A” just for having an ALCU card in her pocket at the right time.[i][quote]“To be fair, both the Davis Police Department and school district deny the charges made by the ACLU. Superintendent Roberson disagrees with the ACLU’s letter and called their report ‘one-sided’….The ACLU remains concerned that actions by the police and school officers were prompted by the lawful exercise of the students’ constitutionally protected right to report on newsworthy issues.”[/quote][/i]It’s easy for an ALCU report to be one-sided. And there’s not a thing wrong with authorities following up on crimes when “prompted by the lawful exercise” of anything. The real question for Mr. Roberson and the Police Chief is whether they really did follow district policy and the law after the story’s publication.

  14. kaws

    No, it is not ‘common’ for police to interrogate journalists about sources, especially in California, which has one of the strongest journalist shield laws in the country (‘shield’ as in shield journalists from having to reveal sources). So both the student and the advisor had no reason to ‘expect any issues.’
    can you imagine, for example, if a similar story had appeared in the Sacramento Bee, cops entering the Bee newsroom and demanding a reporter reveal his/her sources? Wouldn’t happen. The problem here is that the Davis PD apparently did not realize that a student can be a journalist under the law. Hopefully, officers now have a better understanding of the law.
    BTW, if you’re wondering about those rare stories where a journalist is ordered to reveal sources by a court, or even jailed… That happens when a federal law is violated (there is no federal shield law, although there have been recent attempts to pass one) or in one of the many states without a shield law.

  15. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Bill Clinton was disbarred? what state(s)?.[/quote]

    Arkansas.

    [quote]As to whether her story disrupted school as it relates to this section, it think it’s clear this case would not meet that threshold, but maybe you have done the research and would care to share? I think you’re being too liberal with what constitutes a school disruption here. [/quote]

    I disagree. The student advisor had to nix the idea of a “ridealong” with taggers, so knew there was a potential for trouble here. Interviewing local students engaged in criminal activity should raise red flags for any adult supervisor with an ounce of sense. Not for one second do I believe that such activity wouldn’t be considered disruptive to the proper functioning of the school – WHICH IT ULTIMATELY WAS (INTERROGATION OF STUDENTS). From wikipedia: ” Morse v. Frederick (2007) supported the suspension of a student holding a banner reading “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” at a school-supervised event which was not on school grounds.”

  16. medwoman

    ERM

    Again, it was not the publication of the article that was disruptive. There was no outbreak of graffiti on campus.
    There were no students actively seeking out the taggers during class to congratulate them on their activities. The only disruption was caused by the police in their imprudent decision to interview the students on campus during class time. They had many other, non disruptive alternatives which they chose not to exercise. Whether or not one agrees with the premise of this publication, the disruptors were the police, not the journalist students.

  17. E Roberts Musser

    To medwoman: It matters not one whit who caused the disruption here. It could have been reasonably foreseen by the student advisor that any student who wrote an article in which s/he interviewed students engaging in criminal activity very well might draw the interest of the police and cause the writer problems. That is the crux of the issue on disruption.

  18. medwoman

    ERM

    Well, we will simply have to disagree on this one.
    In my view, part of the role of the police is to set an example for exemplary behavior. I do not consider disruption of classes on a school campus for questioning of a clearly non urgent matter exemplary behavior. Perhaps you do.

  19. Superfluous Man

    ERM,

    “The student advisor had to nix the idea of a “ridealong” with taggers, so knew there was a potential for trouble here. Interviewing local students engaged in criminal activity should raise red flags for any adult supervisor with an ounce of sense.”

    I can understand her concern re: student being perceived as engaging in the illegal activity of the taggers. That said, did she say the advisor told her she couldn’t or shouldn’t?

    Anyway, talking to the tagger and then writing about it is very different. The advisor, per the cited section, is to ensure that the published works don’t create a “material disruption” of school business and are not “explicitly obscene, libelous, or slanderous.” The article clearly is not any of the latter three. As to the disruption, I see none (see below). If the disruption test can be met by a single or a few students being pulled out of class by school admins, then that would be a very low threshold. A poster offered up a seemingly much more disruptive CA high school student’s article, which caused students to walk out in protest and the court sided with the student journalist’s right to publish it(see below).

    Has anyone stated that the article should never have been published in the school newspaper, for it violates this section? I don’t see how it does and I highly doubt the law will be changed to limited student journalists’ right to publish freely.

    “Not for one second do I believe that such activity wouldn’t be considered disruptive to the proper functioning of the school – WHICH IT ULTIMATELY WAS (INTERROGATION OF STUDENTS).”

    From what I’ve read, I don’t see this story reaching the level of “material disruption.”

    ” Morse v. Frederick (2007) supported the suspension of a student holding a banner reading “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” at a school-supervised event which was not on school grounds.”

    I don’t see how this would apply in this case re: student journalists’ right to publish such a story or permit the school admin to censor such stories.

  20. Superfluous Man

    From the Souther Poverty Law Center http://www.splc.org/news/report_detail.asp?id=1394&edition=44

    “For student expression that is not ‘school sponsored,’ the 1969 Supreme Court decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District establishes that an administrator cannot censor student speech unless the school can show it would cause a ‘material and substantial disruption’ of normal school activities or violate the rights of others.”

    “School newspapers often operate under the more restrictive standards set by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1988 ruling in Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, which gave administrators more control over school-sponsored outlets. But several states, including Iowa [and California], have laws guaranteeing Tinker-like protections for all student expression, school-sponsored or not.”

    “In interpreting the Tinker standard, lower courts have generally said that a material and substantial disruption is a physical event that significantly interferes with the normal operation of the school, such as a walk-out, a riot or a sit-in, said Adam Goldstein, the Student Press Law Center’s attorney advocate.”

    “Goldstein said there are not many examples of student journalists being censored by administrators based on the material disruption standard, but many are connected to racially intolerant speech.”

    Re: school admin pulling an article on the basis that it spurred racially based violence on campus: “Goldstein said one fight is not a substantial disruption. But several fights that cannot be stopped in any other way might be.”

    Re: series of Nebraska school articles on the use of the “n-word” which “used the full spelling of the ‘n-word’ in both its ‘er’ and ‘a’ endings, made it into the student publication.” The school received a lot of angry complaints and the articles were investigated by Omaha Public Schools. They found no wrongdoing and no policy changes were made.

    “Goldstein said an article in a student newspaper using the full ‘n-word’ has potential to meet the standards of a material and substantial disruption, but the law requires more than mere ‘potential’ to justify censorship.”

    Re: the “incite” provision of the of the California Student Free Expression Law. This was the case a poster referenced to ERM’s post in the original story’s message board. A student wrote articles calling for stricter immigration laws. The school began censoring the newspaper after his controversial and racially focused pieces.

    “In response, some students walked out of school and protesters complained to Principal Lisa Schwartz. She collected the remaining copies and sent a letter home to parents saying the article should never have been published, according to court documents.”

    The student journalist wrote a follow up piece on “Reverse Racism,” which the admins refused to publish. He got legal representation. The court did not order the school admin to publish his piece “because they agreed to publish it in the next issue.” They did publish it later.

    The student journalist appealed to a higher court who found “speech that seeks to communicate ideas, even in a provocative manner, may not be prohibited merely because of the disruption it may cause due to reactions by the speech’s audience.”

    SPLC: “Besides speech that is ‘obscene, libelous or slanderous,’ officials can restrict student speech that ‘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.’”

    ‘The school argued that Smith’s article was likely to incite disruption of the orderly operation of the school.’ However, the court disagreed and ruled accordingly.

    Re: avoiding problems Goldstein (SPLC lawyer) said “You have to ask what is journalism for,” and “At the end of the day, it is a service profession. You’re trying to educate the public. If you don’t tell them the truth you’re not doing that. And if you offend them and they don’t read it, you’re not doing that either.”

  21. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Well, we will simply have to disagree on this one.
    In my view, part of the role of the police is to set an example for exemplary behavior. I do not consider disruption of classes on a school campus for questioning of a clearly non urgent matter exemplary behavior. Perhaps you do.[/quote]

    Don’t put words in my mouth. I have made my position clear on the student questioning issue…

    [quote]I can understand her concern re: student being perceived as engaging in the illegal activity of the taggers. That said, did she say the advisor told her she couldn’t or shouldn’t? [/quote]

    From dmg’s article:
    [quote]She said that she did not expect any issues, however she is glad she did not do what she originally intended, which was to go out with these individuals on their excursion and report on her observations.

    “I talked to my advisor, she advised that I not do that,” Ms. De Hinojosa said. “I’m very happy that I did not.”[/quote]

    To SM: Here, the student has written a highly misleading article, falsely stating the jury is still out on whether tagging is a crime or not, then interviewed students engaged in criminal activity. There is no doubt in my mind, had the supervisor done her job properly, that the student here could have written her article in such a way that the police never would have gotten involved. But instead, the supervisor allowed the student to write a very provocative piece more suitable for an adult publication, that was almost certain to invite police attention. At least the supervisor advised the student not to be at the scene of criminal activity herself in a tagging ride along…

  22. Superfluous Man

    ERM,

    “Here, the student has written a highly misleading article, falsely stating the jury is still out on whether tagging is a crime or not, then interviewed students engaged in criminal activity.”

    Don’t see a problem here, as I explained in most recent message board.

    ” But instead, the supervisor allowed the student to write a very provocative piece more suitable for an adult publication, that was almost certain to invite police attention.”

    CA court’s decision re: CA HS student journalists “provcative” story (above)…

    “speech that seeks to communicate ideas, even in a provocative manner, may not be prohibited merely because of the disruption it may cause due to reactions by the speech’s audience.”

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