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502.3 Freedom of Expression

Code No. 502.3


It is the goal of the district to protect the educational environment for all students to help ensure it is free from substantial disruption or infringement upon their rights.  Student expression should be appropriate to ensure that the students learn and meet the goals of the school activity and that the potential audience is not exposed to material that may be harmful or inappropriate for their level of maturity.

While students will generally be allowed to express their viewpoints and opinions, in certain qualifying circumstances, student speech may require administrative regulation to help ensure the safety and welfare of the school community.  The district may regulate speech that:  causes or is reasonably anticipated to cause a material and substantial disruption to the education environment; infringes upon the rights of others; is obscene or lewd; is school sponsored; and/or promotes illegal activity.  The administration, when making this judgment, will consider whether the activity in which the expression was made is school-sponsored and whether review or prohibition of the students' speech furthers an educational purpose.  The expression must be done in a reasonable time, place, and manner that is not disruptive to the orderly and efficient operation of the school district.

The superintendent may develop procedures for safely addressing qualifying types of mass protests by students, including walk-ins and walk-outs.  Walk-ins occur when students leave their learning environments during school hours and gather in a group or groups with the purpose of promoting a belief or beliefs.  Walk-outs occur when students leave their learning environments during school hours and gather in a group or groups off district property with the purpose of promoting a belief or beliefs. 

The superintendent is encouraged to obtain feedback from community stakeholders in the development of these procedures.  The goal of the procedures shall be to address student safety, maintain the education environment and promote communication during demonstrations while remaining viewpoint neutral.

Students who violate this policy may be subject to disciplinary measures.  Employees are responsible for ensuring students' expression is in keeping with this policy.  It is the responsibility of the superintendent to develop administrative regulations regarding this policy.

NOTE:  This policy represents the current status of students' first amendment rights.  This is an optional policy and intended as guidance for districts.  Schools may choose to utilize a different policy for handling student expression and protests.  If so, it should be discussed with the district’s legal counsel and included here.  Schools are urged to handle all protests through a strictly viewpoint neutral lens.  Districts should consider the need to balance opposing views.  If one social issue is permitted, a less popular opposing viewpoint should also be permitted.


Legal Reference:     
U.S. Const. amend. I.
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988).
Bethel School District v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986).
New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985).
Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. Comm. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969).
Bystrom v. Fridley High School, 822 F.2d 747 (8th Cir. 1987).
Iowa Code §§ 279.8; 280.22 (2013).

Cross Reference:     
502 Student Rights and Responsibilities
504 Student Activities
603.9 Academic Freedom
903.5 Distribution of Materials


Reviewed: 2/24/16

Revised: 2/6/22


Grinnell-Newburg School District, Grinnell, IA