Posts made in September, 2011

The Seattle decision: providing ammunition for student responsibility. Part 1


By H. L. Hall

In what might be a landmark decision, a Superior Court judge in Washington ruled July 22, 2011, in Sisley v Seattle School District #1, that public high schools are not liable for the content of student-produced newspapers.

Student Press Law Center spokesmen have said this ruling is the first to ever establish liability protection at the high school level. They think this presents a case for allowing students to make content decisions, as a school district should not have to be concerned about being sued.

Although the decision in this case is not the law of the land, it has the possibility of becoming so, as Sisley is appealing. The appeal process could take six months or more.

It is imperative JEA follow the appeal procedures because additional rulings could have great impact on school publications throughout the country. This ruling could lead to less censorship because school officials would not have to worry about liability.

In the meantime, the Scholastic Press Rights Commission offers teaching materials so you can discuss the decision and its implications with your students now. Included here are:
• A lesson plan by Chris Waugaman on the decision
• A PowerPoint by H. L. Hall usable with students and administrators about the implications of the decision
Resources about the decision and related issues

Later this week we will post links to a master’s thesis by Kristy Roschke that looks at what courts have considered disruptive in scholastic media cases.

Part 2 of this series: Ammunition to help define disruption

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Questions for thought #6 part of a series


The last question of our current series.

Do you have others you would raise?

•  What does a free press contribute to our democratic society?  What are its advantages and disadvantages?  Who benefits from a free press? Now repeat the questions for scholastic media? Are there any differences? What and why?

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Questions for thought #5 of a series


Here’s another Question for Thought in our series :

•  A new administrator joins your school and demands prior review. What will your (students’) responses be?  What points can the students raise to stop her from enforcing this new standard?

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Questions for thought #4 of a series


Here’s another question in our series. Appropriate for Constitution Day?

•  What if any issues or topics should be “untouchable” by student journalists?  Why?

Is it the topic or the process that might lead to censorship problems?

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Student sues Wisconsin school district over “I [heart] Boobies!” bracelet ban


See today’s NSBA School Law newsletter about another regarding another “I [heart] Boobies” case at:

Great opportunity for discussion about this new case in class tomorrow, National Constitution Day.  Celebrate your First Amendment Rights!

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