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28A.600.022  <<  28A.600.025 >>   28A.600.030

RCW 28A.600.025

Students' rights of religious expression — Duty of superintendent of public instruction to inform school districts.

(1) The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Article I, sections 5 and 11 of the Washington state Constitution guarantee that students retain their rights of free speech and free exercise of religion, notwithstanding the student's enrollment and attendance in a common school. These rights include, but are not limited to, the right of an individual student to freely express and incorporate the student's religious beliefs and opinions where relevant or appropriate in any and all class work, homework, evaluations or tests. School personnel may not grade the class work, homework, evaluation, or test on the religious expression but may grade the student's performance on scholastic content such as spelling, sentence structure, and grammar, and the degree to which the student's performance reflects the instruction and objectives established by the school personnel. School personnel may not subject an individual student who expresses religious beliefs or opinions in accordance with this section to any form of retribution or negative consequence and may not penalize the student's standing, evaluations, or privileges. An employee of the school district may not censure a student's expression of religious beliefs or opinions, when relevant or appropriate, in any class work, homework, evaluations or tests, extracurricular activities, or other activities under the sponsorship or auspices of the school district.

     (2) This section is not intended to impose any limit on the exchange of ideas in the common schools of this state. No officer, employee, agent, or contractor of a school district may impose his or her religious beliefs on any student in class work, homework, evaluations or tests, extracurricular activities, or other activities under the auspices of the school district.

     (3) The superintendent of public instruction shall distribute to the school districts information about laws governing students' rights of religious expression in school.

[1998 c 131 § 2.]

Notes:

     Findings -- 1998 c 131: "The legislature recognizes the right of free speech and freedom of religion as guaranteed through the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, sections 5 and 11 of the Washington state Constitution and that these rights extend to students enrolled in the common schools of our state.

     The legislature also recognizes that students may choose to exercise these rights, as protected under the law, in response to the challenges of academic pursuit. While the legislature upholds the rights of students to freely express their religious beliefs and right of free speech, it also holds firmly that it is not the role of education to solicit student responses that force students to reveal, analyze, or critique their religious beliefs." [1998 c 131 § 1.]