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SPLC addresses JEA’s prior review, restraint definitions

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The Student Press Law Center, in its May 4 blog, put JEA’s newly adopted definitions of prior review and prior restraint into legal and educational perspective.

“If a school official insists on reading a student publication ahead of time, they will eventually try to censor it,” SPLC consultant Mike Hiestand wrote. “I would like someone to prove me wrong on this, but I’ve never seen an established system of prior review that has ever remained a pure “reading only” practice.”

In its newly adopted guidelines, JEA created the following definitions:

Prior review occurs when anyone not on the publication/media staff requires that he or she be allowed to read, view or approve student material before distribution, airing or publication.

Prior restraint occurs when someone not on the publication/media staff requires pre-distribution changes to or removal of student media content.

“In the real world …” Hiestand wrote, “experienced, trained advisers that work closely with their students, offering suggestions for improvement — often after reading the content ahead of time — can be a valuable and welcome resource, something the JEA recognizes in excluding such ‘advising’ from its definition of prior review. But even advisers, the definitions recognize, can go too far, and ‘when an adviser requires pre-distribution changes over the objections of student editors,’ the definition states, ‘his/her actions then become prior restraint.'”

Check jeasprc.org soon for recommendations on how advisers can assist students without making decisions for them or requiring them to make changes they don’t want to make.

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