L.A. Journalism Teacher Faces Suspension Over Vaccine Story

LAUSD is suspending a high school newspaper advisor for publishing the name of a librarian who left over the vaccine mandate

The School District's Decision to Suspend Adriana Chavira Sparks an Ongoing Discussion on Student Censorship

222

Former journalist Adriana Chavira, the advisor of the Daniel Pearl Magnet High School’s student publication the Pearl Post, is facing a 3-day suspension for refusing to remove information from a student article. 

The article, which explored the impact of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s vaccination mandate and the protests that followed, included the name of a teacher-librarian who left the Balboa Lake school following the mandate. Although the Pearl Post reported both the teacher and school principal’s unwillingness to discuss the issue due to “personnel confidentiality,” an attorney later advised the publication they were within their rights to publish the name when faced with subsequent requests to remove it. 

Pearl Post editor-in-chief Delilah Brumer told  the Los Angeles Times that Chavira left the decision up to the students. “We’re not going to let them intimidate us,” Brumer said. And while some may interpret California law as being on Chavira’s side, the suspension came nonetheless.

Chavira, a product of the LAUSD herself, worked as a Southern California newspaper reporter for ten years. She transitioned into her role as a teacher 16 years ago and has spent 14 of those years at DPMHS. On her website, offering resources to other LAUSD high school journalism advisors, Chavira notes that she had wanted to be a reporter since eighth grade. Under her tenure, the Pearl Post has been named Best High School Newspaper by the Los Angeles Press Club for the past two years. Still, if the name is not removed from the article by the time Chavira’s suspension ends, she could be fired. 

Chavira’s suspension comes on the heels of a recent report exploring the impact of teaching conditions on L.A. county teachers, as well as the shortage of 50,000 teachers the state is reportedly facing headed into the 2022-23 school year. 

Despite the uncertainty regarding the lasting consequences the article could have on Chavira’s position with DPMHS, the Pearl Post is continuing to report on the issue. “We thought our voices were valued,” the publication recently wrote in an editorial. They went on to state, “Although more than half our staff who were involved in this incident graduated in June, we will not be silent.” 

In a separate interview with the school paper, Chavira connected the issue to an ongoing and fight against censorship in schools. “We’re at a journalism magnet,” she said. “So if this is happening here at our school, this definitely can happen in other schools.”

The school was named in honor of American journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and beheaded by Al Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan in 2002.


Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign for our newsletters today