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There has always been a fundamental tension between public school students and educational authorities in determining the parameters of acceptable student behavior. Particularly volatile controversies have focused on identifying when school personnel may restrict student verbal, symbolic, or written expression. In light of this tension, this entry focuses on these disputes and the legal principles that the courts apply in seeking resolution of differences.

Most of the disputes over student expression focus on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that, in part, prohibits Congress from enacting laws abridging the freedoms of speech or press. First Amendment restrictions on Congress are applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, which the U.S. Supreme Court interprets as incorporating the Bill of Rights and protecting these freedoms against ...

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