Provided by Delilah Brumer

The Pearl Post recently received the First Amendment Press Freedom Award from the Journalism Education Association. Despite this, the district has attempted to censor us.

Editorial: ‘They don’t respect us as student journalists’

The Pearl Post is outraged over Los Angeles Unified School District's attempt to censor us.

September 6, 2022

As editors of The Pearl Post, we thought our voices were valued. Our school administration and district have repeatedly shared our work, amplified our achievements and told us that our opinions matter. Then, as soon as our reporting brought unwanted attention to them, they suspended our adviser. 

This past November, The Pearl Post wrote an article about how the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) staff COVID-19 vaccine mandate led Greta Enszer, our only librarian, to leave Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS). Although we were well within our rights as student journalists, the DPMHS administration threatened disciplinary action against our adviser if we did not take Enszer’s name out of the story. We refused and for several months no official action was taken.

On Thursday, LAUSD suspended our journalism adviser. The three-day unpaid suspension will go into effect after the appeal process. Although more than half our staff who were involved in this incident graduated in June, we will not be silent. 

In California, student journalists are granted much of the same rights as professional journalists, per California Ed Code 48907. These rights mean that the district has no authority to retaliate against our adviser or to censor the content we cover. Therefore, they also have no authority to demand that we remove Enszer’s name. Enszer claimed that we violated HIPAA, but no one from the school district gave us any names of unvaccinated staff so there was no such violation. 

We also consulted with a representative from the Student Press Law Center and have confirmed that we never had a legal obligation to remove Enszer’s name from the story. We believe the story was newsworthy because all changes in staff significantly affect our small student body and therefore needed to remain on our website.  

The district’s flagrant violation of California Ed Code 48907 is unbelievably ironic at DPMHS, a journalism magnet. Through this action, the administration has proven that, despite teaching us about article writing, photography, journalism history and press law, they don’t respect us as student journalists. 

Despite this setback, we will continue to fight for our rights as student journalists and produce timely and accurate coverage of our school and community. 

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  • H

    Hanna GrassOct 4, 2023 at 8:11 am

    You are supported all the way from Elizabethtown, KY by The Central Times staff! We are so incredibly proud of you all for remaining strong and sound in your reasoning, for the rights as student journalists are often misunderstood and undermined. Stand tall and know you are not alone in this fight!

  • R

    Robin Kramer and Neil KramerSep 14, 2022 at 11:55 am

    To the student journalists of the Pearl Post.

    We are two Los Angeles residents who long ago worked as student journalists in high school and college. For each of us, that work contributed to the skills and values of our work and personal lives ever since. The recent Los Angeles Times coverage of your work at the Pearl Post has shown that you have held up the commitment to serious work and consistent application of journalistic values that we learned long ago.

    Robin Kramer
    Neil Kramer

  • Z

    Zoe SiggSep 9, 2022 at 7:01 am

    Supporting you from Mead CO! Keep fighting.

  • J

    Jorja HaskinSep 9, 2022 at 6:59 am

    This is unbelievable! Great for you guys standing your ground and speaking up! All the support from Mead, Colorado<3

  • A

    AnaSep 9, 2022 at 6:59 am

    good work, kudos to yall for knowing your rights and not staying silent

  • A

    Arizona leeSep 9, 2022 at 6:57 am

    You are all incredible. You have SO many student journalists behind you supporting you!

  • J

    jamie hedlunSep 8, 2022 at 1:43 pm

    Heck yes! Go student journalists!

    • S

      Skylar WhalenSep 9, 2022 at 6:57 am

      It is truly upsetting that a Tinker state still has to deal with censorship from school admin. Keep sharing your voice!

  • L

    Logical JeffSep 8, 2022 at 6:45 am

    What was the point of outing a librarian for not wanting to inject an unknown substance into herself? Where are her rights? Why was this even a story. Why not report on the inefficiency of the Covid shot instead and how 40% of DC minority students are being barred from school this year bc of it.
    Next you’ll be writing a story on which teachers are on leave for mental breakdowns and call it freedom of speech.

    • J

      Jeff the LogicalSep 8, 2022 at 9:52 am

      Man these creeps even find their ways to high school newspaper comment sections.

      “Logical Jeff” = unemployable Jeff

    • J

      JackSep 8, 2022 at 10:04 am

      No one, especially a staff member, has the right to disregard local policy and procedures – in this case policy aimed at protecting the health of students and other staff. The news reported was simply providing factual information. Simple as that. Please do not conflate your personal/political views with the work of the student journalists. They have every right to report – and in this case appeared to do it well. (BTW I am a retired public school district administrator. So I speak with 30+ years of experience – including three years at the high school level interacting with student reporters.)

  • A

    Alane KrukSep 7, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    Do not let your freedom be taken away! Bravo!

  • M

    Mitch WaldowSep 7, 2022 at 10:32 am

    Bravo! Stand your ground on this, students. While the LAUSD can’t seem to do anything about the overheated playgrounds at most of its schools in the poorest parts of town, it seems to have plenty of time and energy to go after the public spirited reporting in your paper. You know you’re doing a good job when you raise the ire of the school district. Keep up the good work. You should submit your stories on this to the L.A. Press Club. And kudos to your advisor for taking the heat. As a Supreme Court justice once said, students do not shed their freedom of speech at the schoolhouse gate.

  • T

    Tim HoltSep 7, 2022 at 8:15 am

    Your teachers and staff are the brightest in California! To have the understanding of the corrupt nature of the pharmaceutical industry/government collaboration is key. Those who took the vaccines have no intellectual standing . They have made it difficult for all of us, eroding personal freedoms. It is clear that protection for these folks is necessary in our sheeple ignorant society. Soon we will see the level,of corrupt exposed. I support the actions taken by your administration. Keep writing, but know as a child with undeveloped brains and emotional bodies , you will need to learn of the negative and positive consequences of your writing on real people in real time.
    Thanks for reading. Tim Holt , CMT

    • J

      JackSep 8, 2022 at 10:08 am

      Your response leaves me rather speechless. Let’s see, do I trust the comments of a CMT or stick with the guidance from the CDC? Not a difficult decision.

  • R

    Ryan Ver BerkmoesSep 7, 2022 at 7:27 am

    The district’s censorship is outrageous. Utter hypocrisy at a journalism magnet school they crow about. Thank you Pearl staff for staying true to journalistic ideals.