Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier



The principal of Hazelwood East High School outside St. Louis, Mo., censored from the student newspaper a special teen issue section that included articles on teen pregnancy and the impact of divorce on students that he found objectionable. Members of the student staff sued.

The U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri held that students’ First Amendment rights were not violated, 607 F.Supp. 1450. The students appealed. The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court decision, 795 F.2d 1368, primarily relying on the Supreme Court’s 1969 decision in Tinker v. Des Moines.

The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals decision and held that a high school-sponsored newspaper produced as part of a class and without a “policy or practice” establishing it as a public forum for student expression could be censored where school officials demonstrated a reasonable educational justification and where their censorship was viewpoint neutral.