Arkansas student free expression law



In addition to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, states can provide additional free speech protection to their own citizens by enacting state laws or regulations. The Arkansas Student Publications Act is such a law and provides student journalists attending Arkansas public high schools with added protection against administrative censorship.

Arkansas Student Publications Act:

Section 1. Title. This act shall be known and cited as the "Arkansas Student Publications Act."

Section 2. Each school board shall adopt rules and regulations in the form of written student publications policy developed in conjunction with the student publication advisor(s) and the appropriate school administrator(s), consistent with the other provisions of this act, which shall include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of distributing student publications. Such policy shall be in place by January 1, 1996.

Section 3. Student publications policies shall recognize that students may exercise their right of expression, within the framework outlined in Section 2 of this act. This right includes expression in school-sponsored publications, whether such publications are supported financially by the school or by use of school facilities, or are produced in conjunction with a class, except as provided in Section 4 of this act.

Section 4. Student publications policies shall recognize that truth, fairness, accuracy, and responsibility are essential to the practice of journalism, and that the following types of publications by students are not authorized:

  1. publications that are obscene as to minors, as defined by state law; 
  2. publications that are libelous or slanderous, as defined by state law; 
  3. publications that constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy, as defined by state law; or 
  4. publications that so incite students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises or the violations of lawful school regulations or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.

Section 5. All provisions of this act of a general and permanent nature are amendatory to the Arkansas Code of 1987 Annotated and the Arkansas Code Revision Commission shall incorporate the same in the Code.

Section 6. If any provision of this act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of the act are declared to be severable.

Section 7. All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this act are hereby repealed.