SPLC calls for full reinstatement of CA journalism professor

The Student Press Law Center is calling for the full reinstatement of journalism educator Adriana Chavira with compensation. Any disciplinary notice must be removed from his file.

Ms. Chavira was informed on September 1 that she was suspended for three days without pay and that a disciplinary notice was placed on her personal file for her refusal to withdraw information from an article published in the pearl pole, the independent newspaper at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) in Lake Balboa, Calif., where Ms. Chavira is the longtime counselor. The story reported on the impact of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate on school staff and noted that after the vaccine mandate was put in place, the school librarian failed to show up to school. The former librarian demanded that any reference to her be removed from the story.

California lawmakers anticipated exactly what is happening at DPMHS today and passed legislation to prevent it. In 1977, California led the nation in passing the first state law specifically protecting the editorial freedom of high school student journalists in the state. The law was later amended to include specific protection for student media advisors who were frequent targets of administrators who could no longer directly censor their students. The California law has been the model adopted by 15 other states to date and currently under consideration by several others.

SPLC Executive Director Hadar Harris said: “The action taken against Adriana Chavira is wrong on every level. Censorship is bad. Retaliation against teachers is unacceptable. And in California, there’s a specific law that says it’s illegal. It’s mind-boggling that a nationally recognized educator at a journalism school named for a murdered journalist is being suspended for her students’ solid reporting, in direct violation of California’s freedom of speech law. student expression that specifically protects against situations like this. We all need to stand up and demand justice.

Harris continued, “The retaliatory actions of school administrators against teachers are designed to pressure educators and journalism advisers to censor their students. Administrators at Daniel Pearl Magnet School must uphold the law and support student journalism – and excellent journalism educators like Adriana Chavira. We ask them to do the right thing and reinstate Ms. Chavira immediately.

Daniel Pearl Magnet High School was named for Daniel Pearl, who was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. In 2002, he was kidnapped while working and then killed by terrorists in Pakistan, just months after 9/11. After her murder, Pearl’s family and friends created the Daniel Pearl Foundation to “continue his legacy, using music and words to address the root causes of the hatred that cost him his life”.

The Student Press Law Center (splc.org, @splc) is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works at the intersection of law, journalism, and education to support, promote, and defend the rights of student journalists and their advisors at high school and college levels. Based in Washington, DC, the Student Press Law Center provides free information, training, and legal assistance to student journalists and the educators who work with them.

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