Pages Navigation Menu

Tweet6: Blueprint provides outline for passing free-expression laws

Posted by on Jan 15, 2013 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


hazelwoodcolorEight states have passed laws to provide Hazelwood immunity. Could you protect yourselves?   #25HZLWD

It’s obvious, by the frequent reports of administrative prior review and restraint across the country, that there is a lack of clarity about the law and the First Amendment rights of students.

The waters, muddied by the 1988 Hazelwood Supreme Court decision, are much more clear now in eight states where anti-Hazelwood legislation has passed: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Oregon and North Dakota.

For the student press in all other states, there is a constant tug of war between student journalists and their administrators over what is allowed: Under what circumstances is administrative control over content justified? What recourse do students have when their rights have been infringed upon? What is the role of the adviser? Who is liable when unprotected speech slips through and is published?

It has become clear that, in the states where legislation has passed, these questions now have answers; in the states where there is no clarifying law, the answers to these questions are ill defined. There are no winners in the resulting tug-of-war between school administrators, their districts, and the student press.

in March 2012, a team of SPRC Commission members poured over archives documenting successes and failures in passing legislation, and created a downloadable “Promoting Scholastic Press Rights Legislation: A Blueprint for Success.” This document was updated in February 2016.

This guide is not a guarantee of success, but the SPRC hopes that it will offer insights into the challenges, and will be a practical reference for those who choose to navigate the unpredictable waters of the legislative process. The information will also be available on our homepage, in the menu section, on the right.

To help provide background information about the Hazelwood decision, download this legal research by the First Amendment Center:

Additional resources:

  • Information about states that have passed state legislation OK

  • Model Policies, Legislation and Regulation

  • California Leonard Law

  • Press freedom at a public junior and senior high school

  • About our legal system

  • Cure Hazelwood


Read More