Denial of access

Vancouver School Board restricts student journalism

A Vancouver School Board policy for student clubs adopted in May 2022 appears to restrict some of the activities of student newspapers in the district. 

Under the new policy, the school principal must approve all student clubs, including newspapers. The policy also mandates that the teacher sponsoring a club have control of the club’s social media accounts, and allows the teacher to remove posts unilaterally. 

The policy states: “The principal is responsible for approving the purposes and goals of an extracurricular activity and ensuring that they are appropriate to the age, physical, and intellectual maturity of the students and, also, for ensuring the appropriate involvement of a supervisor.” 

In addition, the policy states: “Social media accounts created for/by school clubs and/or extra-curricular activities are the responsibility of the sponsor teacher. This includes account creation, access, and content.”

The policy also states that the school district “reserves the right to remove any postings, or content of any other nature, from such approved social media platforms that they consider to be inappropriate or in violation of this procedure.”

Journalists at the student newspaper The Griffins’ Nest at Eric Hamber Secondary School in Vancouver said they were concerned that the policy on student clubs and social media could threaten their work by allowing the school district to control their reporting, The Tyee reported

Journalists at the newspaper have previously said the school district had tried to restrict the paper’s reporting, including by telling a journalist at the newspaper that teacher permission was needed to file an access to information request with the district. 
In a statement sent to The Tyee, a spokesperson for the Vancouver School Board said that “The District’s oversight of student newspapers and other clubs is an important responsibility, and action to limit expression would never be taken without sound and specific reasons.”