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Monday, May 1, 2017

Flushing High School Principal Tyee Chin Censors the Students and Makes a Very Big Story Even Bigger

It seems to me that Principal Tyee Chin is not a thinking man.

He is in the media for changing grades, and punishing Eileen Ghastin for trying to stop a student after the student threatened to beat her up (Chin found 'probable cause' for termination and re-assigned her, then she had her 3020-a). So, what does he do but censor the student publication?

Oh, I get it. He WANTS media coverage sooooo badly, he will anything, even if it brings ridicule and opposition, as long as he remains in the public eye. He likes it that way.

I put some interesting arguments for and against student speech freedoms at school after the NY POST article on  Flushing HS.  In Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988):
"Hazelwood is generally viewed as granting educators considerable latitude to control the content of student publications, if they so for legitimate educational reasons and not out of hostility to particular ideas. Judicial deference to educators under Hazelwood has permitted restrictions on student publications, often without careful scrutiny of the educational rationale offered."

Another side is Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969).
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I hope that most principals across America keep a wide-open door to students who have something to say. They should be heard.

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

Student journalists Julie Chavez (left), Melanie Arevalo, Shelsy Baquis, Jonathan Bravo, Paloma Mendez, Manuel
Peguero and Ainara Hidalgo.

Principal pulls school paper that critiques teachers’ performance
Susan Edelman and melissa Klein, NYPOST, April 30, 2017

Principal Tyee Chin
The principal of Flushing HS is giving these student journalists a lesson in censorship.
Tyee Chin has refused to publish the third issue of the fledgling Flushing Advocate, calling everything in it and a prior issue “negative and disparaging.”
“I will not approve this edition,” Chin declared in an e-mail.
Chin cited a feature that infuriated him: “What Makes a Good Teacher?” which quotes multiple students.
One sophomore commented, “Good teachers help you struggle less and help you get motivated, but to be honest, Flushing High School lacks in those kinds of teachers. Out of my 8 classes, only 3 of my teachers really care.”
Chin was also displeased by the placement of his “Principal’s Corner — a note from Mr. Chin” on Page 4 in the last issue, a student said. “He’s like ‘Give me the front cover’ . . . He got really angry about that.”
Chin’s dictate stunned and angered the students who toiled for weeks on the spring edition. They launched a petition last week, collecting 500 signatures so far, “to bring back our journalistic freedom.”
The edition banned by Chin features a glowing front-page story on 16 Flushing kids who attended a conference of Health Occupation Students of America and “proudly took home nine medals!” The front page also includes a “Vocabulary Corner” with 14 words and definitions.
Among 11 other pieces, Julie Chavez wrote about diabetes, telling how one senior avoided the disease by losing weight and exercising.
Senior Sharon Cheung, the school’s salutatorian, wrote “The Benefits of Advanced Placement,” urging peers to take the challenging courses.
“He has no good reason to ban it,” Cheung told The Post. “Most of the articles are positive. They show the school’s accomplishments.”
Junior Ainara Hidalgo agreed. She wrote how a robotics class can open doors for students, especially girls. “I don’t think that’s negative,” she said.
Junior Paloma Mendez, who wrote the article that offended Chin, said a student newspaper can help improve Flushing High, which is in Mayor de Blasio’s Renewal Program for low-performing schools.
“It teaches you how to be a better writer, how to communicate with people,” she said.
Chris Marzian, the English teacher who serves as the newspaper’s adviser, defended the young journalists: “A student’s First Amendment right shouldn’t end when they walk into a school,” he said.
In an e-mail to The Post, Chin said, “I’m not refusing to print it. I’m scheduling a meeting to discuss the tone of the paper with the teacher.”
He said the teacher “has refused to follow… expectations.” Chin also insisted he has a “legal right to senor (sic) the content” of a student newspaper.

The First Amendment in Schools: Resource Guide: Student Publications

 What role do student publications play in the school setting? The answers to this question may reveal different expectations and goals for student press and literary publications, depending on who is asked. Administrators may view student publications as representing the school in the community at large, or as an adjunct to the English curriculum. Or they may see them as providing opportunities and experiences for students learning how writers, reporters, and editors work, by functioning as they would in real life. Faculty advisors and student authors may see them as an open forum for student views, or as a training opportunity where students learn from their experiences and mistakes acting as reporters, writers, and editors. It is important to understand the various functions student publications can perform in the school setting, to avoid controversies about who controls the content of such publications.
In general, administrators have the authority to decide the purpose and objectives of student publications. If they conclude that journalistic independence is an objective, it is unlikely that courts would interfere with policies to implement this goal. At the same time, courts would also be unlikely to interfere with a determination by school authorities to exercise oversight, as long as they are not trying to suppress dissent or disfavored ideas.
A handful of Supreme Court decisions define the contours of students’ rights and administrative authority in this area. The landmark Supreme Court decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969) overturned the suspension of several students for wearing black armbands to school in protest against the Vietnam War, acknowledging that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." Under Tinker, student expression would have to threaten substantial disruption of the educational environment to be subject to suppression. Tinker’s applicability to student publications is tempered by two subsequent decisions, however.
Bethel School Dist. No. 403 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986) upheld the school’s ability to censor student expression on campus that is vulgar, lewd, or obscene. Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988) upheld the authority of school officials to control content of school publications for educational purposes or to insure that it represents the school accurately and appropriately. These cases define the limits of school authority over student expression and speak to the legality, but not necessarily the wisdom, of speech-restrictive practices and policies.
The Court’s ruling in Hazelwood is generally viewed as granting educators considerable latitude to control the content of student publications, if they so for legitimate educational reasons and not out of hostility to particular ideas. Judicial deference to educators under Hazelwood has permitted restrictions on student publications, often without careful scrutiny of the educational rationale offered. As a result, some states have enacted what are commonly referred to as "anti-Hazelwood laws" to restore student free speech protection.
State "Anti-Hazelwood" Laws: Since 1977, California has had a law on its books protecting student expression. In its present form, this section of the California Education Code, No. 48950, says school districts cannot make or enforce any rule subjecting a high school student to disciplinary sanctions on the basis of speech or other communication that–outside campus–is protected by the First Amendment or Section 2 of Article 1 of the California Constitution. Students can take civil action to obtain legal relief and the court can award attorney’s fees to a prevailing plaintiff in a civil action. This does not apply to private religious secondary schools, and nothing prohibits disciplining students for harassment, threats, or intimidation. According to the code, free speech rights are subject to reasonable time, place, and manner regulations.
Five other states–Massachusetts, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas and Arkansas–have enacted anti-Hazelwood legislation since 1988. Student press defenders are pushing for similar laws in other states and advocating other state-level protections. At Oregon’s Brookings Habor High School where student journalists can refuse to publish a newspaper rather than submit to prior review, legislation is pending before the legislature that would protect student newspapers from prior review.
Student articles about drug use, teen sexuality, death, suicide, divorce, and other controversial topics, are most likely to generate censorship controversies. School officials typically seek to censor such articles on the ground that they reflect badly on the school, or that they are inappropriate subjects for students, or that they are offensive to some readers. In one recent situation at Hinsdale Central High School outside Chicago, the principal censored then destroyed a school paper report on school violence. The story "Scared of School," was to be published on the second anniversary of the killings at Columbine High School in Colorado (April 2001). The principal objected to the headline of one story, "Getting a Gun," and to "alarmist" illustrations, including a hooded figure with a gun.
Regardless of whether the principal has the legal authority to suppress a story, it is not always the best course of action. In the Hinsdale case, students published on the Internet, and a local paper editorialized in support of the article and included its Web address. The school board later issued a statement that censorship would only exacerbate the problem of violence in schools. In another recent incident in Wisconsin, a school principal decided to pre-review the student magazine before publication. The students, considering it a forum for the expression of student views, fear that the magazine will lose its personality and appeal, in which case they may decide to publish off-campus.