No suspension for teacher who refused to censor student newspaper article naming unvaccinated campus librarian

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles school officials have overturned the suspension of a high school journalism adviser who refused to censor a student’s news article naming an unvaccinated campus librarian.

Adriana Chavira was facing a three-day suspension without pay for the report on employees who refused to follow the LA Unified School District’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Across LAUSD, approximately 240 teachers opted out of vaccination, which prevented them from attending school on October 18,” reported the Daniel Pearl Magnet High student-run news website. , the Pearl Post. The article named an unvaccinated librarian.

For several months after the article was published in November, the librarian and school principal demanded that the name be removed.

But Chavira, a former journalist who taught at Pearl Magnet High for 14 years, supported her students’ reporting and refused to change the story, citing a California law that protects student journalists from censorship.

She appealed the suspension and won, with a district official overruling the discipline Friday at an after-school meeting, Chavira told The Times.

“It was definitely a sigh of relief, a huge load off my back,” Chavira said. She added that the ordeal was also stressful for her students, “knowing something they wrote could potentially get me fired”.

A district official considered the matter for a few minutes before rescinding the suspension without comment, Chavira said.

Chavira and his students have received support from the Student Press Law Center, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Society of Professional Journalists.

They have also been backed by Judea Pearl, whose journalist son – the school’s namesake – was kidnapped and killed by al-Qaeda extremists while working for the Wall Street Journal in Pakistan in 2002.

“I don’t want (Chavira) to be disciplined for allowing his students to tell the truth,” Judea Pearl said in a statement released by the Los Angeles Press Club. “I only want the best for the students and the school, which is why I hope they reconsider this decision.”

Chavira said she was glad the situation shed light on California’s protections for journalism advisers and student journalists.

“They have the 1st Amendment on campus, and they shouldn’t bow to administrators to take down their stories if the stories are well reported,” she told The Times.

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