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Roseville high school district revises advertising policy

Teachers voiced concern over how rules might limit free speech
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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Roseville Joint Union High School District has revised its advertising policy following concerns about how recent changes could impede free speech.

The school board unanimously approved the revision during Tuesday’s meeting. Board members Jan Pinney and Scott Huber were absent.

The board had approved a new policy on Oct. 9 giving the superintendent the right to approve all advertisements in school publications such as newspapers and yearbooks. This was based on the California School Board Association’s model policy.

But teachers and students thought the policy restricted students’ rights, and the district spent the past several weeks working with the Student Press Law Center in Virginia to find a solution.

“I have to say, the (previous) policy was intended to regulate commercial advertising only on high school campuses and never intended to restrict students’ rights, student press or free speech in any way,” said Director of Pupil Personnel Services Steve Williams during the meeting.

The district removed student publications from the parts of the policy that conflicted with California Education Code 48907, which affirms the right of high school newspapers to publish whatever they chose. Content must not be explicitly obscene, libelous or slanderous.

“This is the way governance should happen,” said board member Paige Stauss. “We realized there’s a problem created that’s not the intention and in a month’s time we revised it so everyone’s happy, and other schools will learn from us.”

Karl Grubaugh, adviser of Granite Bay High School’s student newspaper the Gazette, said he’s satisfied with the change. He sent a letter to fellow staff prior to Tuesday’s board meeting stating the new policy will “honor the scholastic press rights of students,” and thanking Williams and Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Services Ron Severson for their efforts.

“(The) good news is that the district was true to its word and made sure a policy that had some problems was quickly and appropriately revised,” Grubaugh wrote. “That’s something to celebrate.”