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LAUSD Lifts Suspension Of Journalism Teacher At Daniel Pearl Magnet High School

High School journalism teacher Adriana Chavira holds a camera inside a classroom.
Adriana Chavira is a former reporter and the longtime journalism advisor at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Los Angeles.
(Elishava Ibarra/Courtesy Adriana Chavira)
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The Los Angeles high school journalism teacher suspended without pay for refusing to censor her students' reporting says she has been vindicated.

Adriana Chavira, who teaches at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, says a school district administrator rescinded her suspension in a hearing on Friday.

"I think this hopefully has raised awareness throughout the state and also the country about the importance of student journalism and then, you know, they also have First Amendment rights," Chavira told LAist.

The Backstory

In the fall of last year, students covered the school district's mandate that all staff get a COVID-19 vaccination. Among those who hadn't complied: the school's librarian. The article named her, explaining that in her absence, the school library remained closed.

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That librarian alleged that her privacy had been violated and asked that her name be removed from the online article. Chavira said state free speech and press laws protected the newspaper. She forwarded the email to the students to let them know.

In February, school principal Armen Petrossian emailed a threat of disciplinary action to Chavira if she didn’t remove the librarian’s name by the next day. Earlier this month, the district moved ahead with her suspension.

There are regulations that prohibit medical personnel and public agencies from disclosing some private information.

What Legal Experts Say

But legal experts say that the student newspaper is an independent entity. It’s not a public agency like the school and is not bound by these rules.

“The courts have been very clear that students working in student media are not school employees, or agents of the school in any way,” said Mike Hiestand, senior legal counsel for the Student Press Law Center. “They're students telling stories, providing news.”

Many organizations and individuals urged LAUSD to withdraw the suspension. Among them: Judea Pearl, father of the school's namesake and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation.

"I’m glad I stood up and said, no I’m not going to take this down,” Chavira said.

In a statement to LAist, Local District Northwest spokesperson Jonathan Fu said only that all personnel matters are confidential.

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Kyle Stokes reports on the public education system — and the societal forces, parental choices and political decisions that determine which students get access to a “good” school (and how we define a “good school”).