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California bill would protect charter school journalists

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  1. Prior Restraint
A California state Senate committee passed the latest incarnation of a bill today that would extend existing free-speech laws to…

A California state Senate committee passed the latest incarnation of a bill today that would extend existing free-speech laws to charter schools. The bill will likely go to the full floor for a vote as early as next week.

California state Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco introduced SB 438 after administrators at an Orange County high school delayed the printing of the student newspaper last year after objecting to its content. The bill would amend California’s educational code to specifically include publications and press outlets at charter schools, The Orange County Register reported.

This is not the first time Sen. Yee has taken up the issue of journalistic freedom in public schools. In 2006, Yee authored a law that prohibits the censorship of student press by school administrators. The American Civil Liberties Union used that law to successfully sue a California high school and settled out of court last week for $28,000, The North County Times reported.

The intention of SB 438 is to extend that law to specifically include charter schools after an Orange County high school administrator told The Student Press Law Center that charter schools were exempt.

Nicolina Hernandez, a legislative aid for Sen. Yee, expects the bill to move quickly.  "Though it really depends on the Governor, the bill could potentially be law as early as February," Hernandez said.