Freedom of Speech and Expression - Students 5-38

School Board of the City of Virginia Beach
Policy 5-38


Freedom of Speech and Expression - Students

  1. Generally

    Schools, by their very nature, must encourage free inquiry and free expression of ideas. Schools should provide opportunities for the students to express themselves. Schools should provide age appropriate guidance and instruction on the rights, privileges, responsibilities, and consequences of freedom of speech and expression.

  2. Student publications or creations

    The Superintendent or designee is authorized to develop regulations and guidance for school sponsored student publications or creations. Such publications or creations can include but are not limited to: classwork or assignments; yearbooks; newspapers; journals; compilations of student works; flyers or advertisements; video, photographic, electronic or other media creations and postings; works of art; other visual, auditory or tangible creations. Student publications or creations not related to a school sponsored class, activity or program may be subject to reasonable limitations regarding the time, place or manner of distribution or expression on School Division property, buildings, computer systems, or at school sponsored events.

  3. Guidelines
    1. Students have the right to free and dynamic expression of ideas. Such expression shall include the opinions of students. Controversial ideas are not to be avoided however, students should be provided guidance regarding when a student may be limited or disciplined for expression or speech.
    2. A forum for the expression of legitimate student concerns shall be established and maintained for the secondary schools and shall be attended by appropriate staff representatives when in session. It is recommended that the school follow one of the two methods described below, when setting up such a forum:
      1. a sub-committee of the student cooperative association, or
      2. a panel of students, parents, teachers and administrators.
    3. A student whose expression or speech violates the Code of Student Conduct or applicable law, regulation or policy may be disciplined accordingly. The student's right to appeal a decision regarding the student's expression or speech shall be governed by School Board policy and regulation as well as applicable law.
    4. The Superintendent or designee is authorized to determine when a student's expression, speech, publication or creation has or is reasonably anticipated to disrupt the educational and/or work environment or violate applicable policy, regulation or law. The Superintendent or designee may use different criteria for determining disruption of the educational and/or work environment based on the age, and intellectual capacity of the students involved in the matter.
    5. Any person speaking solely or partially for the purpose of infringing on the rights of others is beyond their right of freedom of speech.

School Board Policy 5-39

Adopted by School Board: June 16, 1981
Amended by School Board: August 21, 1990
Amended by School Board: July 16, 1991
Amended by School Board: June 15, 1993 (Effective August 14, 1993)
Amended by School Board: April 13, 2021