Adviser protection bill moves forward in Calif.

CALIFORNIA — The Journalism Teacher Protection Actpassed the state Senate Monday on a 35-2 vote, bringing high school and collegejournalism advisers in California one step closer to being protected againstadministrators who retaliate against them for student speech.

Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) introduced SB 1370 in Februaryas a follow-up to AB 2581, a 2006 law he sponsored that prohibits administratorsat public colleges from punishing students for engaging in protected speech. The current bill would “prohibit an employee from being dismissed,suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliatedagainst” for protecting student speech.

Several California journalism advisers have reported being disciplined forprotecting their students’ free press rights or refusing to adopt a priorreview policy. Jim Ewert, legal counsel for the California Newspaper PublishersAssociation, said a rise in these incidents is most likely a reaction to AB 2851– since administrators can no longer censor students, they now”bully advisers into engaging in these behaviors.”

Of the seven states that have laws protecting student speech, Colorado andKansas are the only two with provisions extending protection to journalismadvisers. If passed, SB 1370 would be the first law enacted solely to protectjournalism advisers. The bill now moves to the state Assembly.