As unrest continues in Ferguson, Mo. and, to a degree in Los Angeles, after the fatal police shootings of unarmed black men in those cities, Los Angeles schools chief John Deasy asked principals Tuesday to be vigilant in their efforts to provide an environment for students to exercise their 1st Amendment rights while also maintaining the safety of students and staff.
The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. has prompted more than a week of protests and repeated clashes with law enforcement. In Los Angeles, the shooting of Ezell Ford, a mentally ill man, has sparked similar anger and protests.
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An earlier version of this post said a rally and march beginning at Augustus Hawkins High was scheduled for Wednesday. It is actually scheduled for Thursday.
Hundreds rallied Sunday outside the
In an internal memo to administrators, Deasy wrote that principals must balance the rights of students with the safety of others.
"While it is important to allow for such dialogue, it is equally important to ensure that discussions remain thoughtful, measured and healthy so that a balance of protecting opinions and debate do not compromise school climate, student or community safety," Deasy wrote.
District spokeswoman Ellen Morgan said the memo was not prompted by a particular incident or planned demonstration and was precautionary.
District spokeswoman Ellen Morgan said the memo was not prompted by a particular incident or planned demonstration and was intended to be precautionary
However, a rally and march is scheduled to begin Thursday at Augustus Hawkins High, an L.A. Unified school. Protesters are expected to march to Bethune Middle School, another L.A. Unified campus.
The march, dubbed the "Our Lives Matter March and Teach-In" is organized by the local nonprofit Community Coalition. Organizers say it is aimed at letting students express their frustration at the recent shootings and the "lack of justice" for black males and those of color who have had their lives cut short.
Deasy reminded principals that students have a right to speak freely and assemble on campus during noninstructional hours.
This includes the right to distribute literature reflective of their views and participate in peaceful demonstrations so long as student conduct is not "obscene, lewd, libelous, slanderous" and does not "incite students or destroy property or inflict injury upon any person, or cause a substantial disruption to the operations of the school," Deasy wrote.
But administrators, he added, are permitted by law to impose restrictions on the time, place and manner of the speech or activity on campus. Students should also be reminded of the possible consequences of running afoul of district policy.
Although students are free to exercise their 1st Amendment rights on campus, employees are not.
"District employees shall not promote, endorse, or participate in any student demonstration, distribution of materials, assembly, sit-in, or walk-out," he wrote.
And should a principal hear of a walk-out or any other disruptive activity, they should call the Los Angeles School Police Department, Deasy wrote.