Pennsylvania Code

Freedom of Expression

Pennsylvania Code Section 12.9
“Students have a right and are free as editors of other newspapers to report the news. … School officials shall supervise student newspapers published with school equipment, remove obscene or libelous material and edit other material that would cause a substantial disruption or interference with school activities. School officials may not censor or restrict material simply because it is critical of the school or its administration.”
Basically, this section of the Pennsylvania Code states that students have the right to publish school newspapers and distribute them in school under their freedom of speech, but they must be supervised by a school staff member if they are using school equipment. This supervisor, it states, must also be sure to remove any obscene material from the paper that would disrupt learning. However, the code states clearly that the staff supervisor may NOT censor any student-published newspaper articles that merely criticize the school, because that would be a violation of students’ free speech rights.

“The constitutional right of freedom of speech guarantees the freedom of public school students to publish materials on their own. … The students themselves have sole responsibility for any statements published. Approval procedures must be followed prior to distribution or display of materials on school property.”
This states that students have the right, under freedom of speech, to publish their own “underground” newspapers that don’t need staff supervision, but they must have approval from school officials to distribute the newspaper or materials on school property. The students then take full responsibility for any inappropriate material that may be published in this paper and must accept any consequences that may result.

Pennsylvania Code Section 12.10
“It is the responsibility of every citizen to show proper respect for his country and its flag. Students may decline to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and may refrain from saluting the Flag on the basis of personal belief or religious convictions.”
Essentially, this states that no student may be forced to salute the flag or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, if their personal or religious beliefs will not allow it. The law seems to confirm that freedom of speech includes the freedom “not to speak.”