Overreaching New School Board Policy Stifles Free Speech

New Board of Governance policies recently approved by the San Diego Unified School Board ban school board members from publicly expressing “negative judgments” about the superintendent or staff performance. Violation of the new rule may result in removal from leadership positions or committee posts, or public censure by the Board.

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties Voice of San Diego reported that the new policies grew out of a desire to stem the discord between district employees and the school board, quoting the last superintendent, Carl Cohn, as saying the district had “a culture of conflict.”

The ACLU demand letter notes that no matter how laudable the purpose of or motivation behind the new policies are, they nonetheless constitute an undue restriction on freedom of speech.

The letter calls on the school district to revise the policies so they conform to constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and the public’s right to be fully informed of its elected officials’ positions on important educational matters.