Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 1056

January Session, 2009

 

LCO No. 4122

 

*04122_______JUD*

Referred to Committee on Judiciary

 

Introduced by:

 

(JUD)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING STUDENTS' RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2009) (a) For the purposes of this section, "school" means any public elementary or secondary school or public institution of higher education in this state, and "speech" means any expression, whether written, oral or nonverbal, that is protected under the first amendment to the United States Constitution or section 4 or 5 of article first of the Constitution of the state.

(b) No school may censor or punish speech of a school student, whether or not the speech is school-sponsored, unless the speech:

(1) Is demonstrably likely to cause material and substantial disruption to the educational process, provided mere inconvenience to school officials or employees shall not be deemed to constitute disruption;

(2) (A) Is lewd, vulgar or indecent, and (B) occurs on school premises during school hours or during school-supervised extra-curricular activities or is school-sponsored; or

(3) Materially and substantially invades privacy.

(c) Nothing in this section shall prevent faculty advisors or persons performing the functions of advisors from taking appropriate steps to ensure that school-sponsored student speech, within their jurisdiction, meets accepted professional standards.

(d) No school employee who acts in good faith shall be discharged, disciplined, transferred or removed from his or her position for (1) advising students of their rights under this section, (2) refusing to violate the provisions of this section, or (3) reporting violations of the provisions of this section to a superior or other competent authority, an affected student or such student's parent or guardian or the public.

(e) No school district or school shall be held liable for student speech that is protected under this section. No school district official or school administrator, teacher or other employee shall be held personally liable for student speech that is protected under this section unless such person has, in bad faith, instigated or encouraged such speech.

(f) Any person aggrieved by a violation of the provisions of this section may bring an action for injunctive or declaratory relief, damages and a reasonable attorney's fee in any court of competent jurisdiction.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

July 1, 2009

New section

Statement of Purpose:

To provide protection for certain speech and expression by public school students.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]