A journalism advisor at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Los Angeles is facing a three-day suspension for reporting done by her students, yet nobody has disputed the accuracy of their story. The school is named for a celebrated Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered while on assignment in Pakistan, raising sensitivities around attempted censorship in his hometown.
Adriana Chavira, the teacher and longtime advisor for the school’s Pearl Post, intends to appeal the decision. Respected by her peers from a decade-long reporting career, she’s supported by the local journalism community. That includes the Los Angeles Press Club, and most notably the Pearl family.
“I admire Adriana and all she’s done to inspire her students,” said Judea Pearl, father of Daniel Pearl and President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. “She’s a wonderful teacher and journalism advisor, as demonstrated by the award-winning reporting done under her mentorship. She has been instrumental in these achievements. I don’t want her to face any disciplinary action for allowing her students to tell the truth. I only want what’s best for the students and the school, which is why I hope they will reconsider this decision.”
The article leading to Chavira’s suspension was first published by the school’s newspaper in the fall of 2021. The Pearl Post ran a story about protests over the Los Angeles Unified School District’s vaccine mandate. Their coverage noted that a teacher-librarian had opted out of vaccination, resulting in closure of their school library.
As reported recently by LAist, the librarian asked for her name to be removed from the online article. Chavira stood by her students and was backed by press rights lawyers familiar with decades of clear legal precedents on their side. Unfortunately, administrators threatened disciplinary action against Chavira if the name was not removed. Chavira invoked her rights but was still given an unpaid suspension.
“There’s always room for a discussion about privacy and the responsibilities of journalists, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening,” said Adam Rose, press rights chair for the Los Angeles Press Club. “Suspending the journalism advisor doesn’t make the story untrue. Censorship doesn’t bring less attention to the original reporting. The only lesson here is that you can’t unring a bell.”
The Los Angeles Press Club is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with over 1,000 member journalists in Southern California. It bestows the annual Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism and is proud to regularly welcome Pearl Post students to their awards contests and events.
LAPC joins a coalition of journalism groups in voicing support for Chavira, including the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists; Media Guild of the West; National Association of Hispanic Journalists; National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) – Los Angeles Chapter; National Press Photographers Association; Online News Association Los Angeles; Orange County Press Club; and Radio Television Digital News Association.