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'Freedom for Iran' slogan painted over at La Jolla High

February 16, 2011 |  8:48 pm

The slogan on benches at La Jolla High before being painted over. Click through for a larger photo. The Middle East is roiling with calls for democracy, but officials at La Jolla High School in San Diego had the slogans "Freedom For Iran" and "Down With Dictator" painted over when they were discovered on three "senior benches" where messages are permitted.

School Principal Dana Shelburne told KGTV-TV Channel 10 that painting over the benches and obliterating the slogans was not a violation of students' 1st Amendment rights.

The slogans, on the back and seat of the concrete benches, had been painted by Iranian American students at the school.

In a statement to the television station, Shelburne said: "I fully support the Constitution and freedom of speech. But the rules need to be followed. The bench is for birthday wishes or school spirit messages."

The school has a bulletin board where political messages are appropriate, the principal told KGTV.

Parham Hariri, a 2004 graduate of the school, said he was outraged that the pro-democracy message was painted over. As an Iranian, he said, he wants to see change in his native country and believes the slogans could raise awareness among students.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: The slogan on benches at La Jolla High before being painted over. Credit: KGTV-TV Channel 10

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