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Education Law and The First Amendment

Navigation:  Home > Education Law > Education Law Overview

 

A school need not tolerate student speech that is inconsistent with its basic educational mission, even though the government could not censor similar speech outside the school. Because most public school students are minors and school administrators have the duty to provide and facilitate education and to maintain order and discipline, the Supreme Court has emphasized the need for affirming the comprehensive authority of the States and of school officials, consistent with fundamental constitutional safeguards, to prescribe and control conduct in the schools. While a public school student does not shed his or her constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate, those rights may be limited as long as the limitation is consistent with constitutional safeguards.

Speech in school can be banned if it is lewd, vulgar, indecent, or plainly offensive. Furthermore, educators do not offend the First Amendment by exercising editorial control over the style and content of student speech in school-sponsored expressive activities so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate academic concerns.

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