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ACLU unsettled about student privacy concerns despite change in Nev. solicitation policy

(03/01/02 12:00am)

The Nevada public college system voted in early March to amend its policy regarding the release of student directory information to both commercial and non-commercial solicitors, providing students with a more obvious choice to "opt out" of such solicitations. The American Civil Liberties Union, which threatened in January to sue the University and Community College System of Nevada for alleged violations of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act with its old policy, was unimpressed by the change.




'Law of the Student Press' book now available online to SPLC members

(03/01/02 12:00am)

The SPLC is pleased to introduce an important new benefit for SPLC members. Effective immediately, SPLC members can now download PDF files of our book, "Law of the Student Press," Second Edition (1994), the most comprehensive resource on student media law available. At 269 pages, the book contains information on high school and college press freedom issues as well as chapters on defamation, copyright, adviser rights, obscenity, freedom of information law and many other legal topics of interest to the student press community. There is no charge to download the material, although you must have an SPLC member username and password. The current member username is: Member\nThe current member password is: splcorg The SPLC staff is currently writing a new third edition of "Law of the Student Press." We expect it to be published in late 2002.



Correction

(04/01/02 12:00am)

In last month's Legal Alert, the wrong date was used in the case citation for the story "Calif. judge cites anti-SLAPP law in dismissal of libel suit against student newspaper." The correct citation is Reyes v.




Pennsylvania school district bans distribution of materials by private groups

(04/01/02 12:00am)

After the American Civil Liberties Union challenged a religious study group flier distributed in Altoona School District, the rural school board in February banned distribution of all outside materials by private groups.\n \nThe ACLU objected in September 2001 when Altoona required its teachers to hand out religious brochures in school advocating a release-time program for the nearby Child Evangelism Fellowship.


Fla. principal pulls student's editorial critical of teacher's extra-credit project

(04/01/02 12:00am)

A Tampa high school student is pondering his next move after school district officials censored an editorial claiming that students were buying extra-credit in a chemistry class. Student Brian Leon wrote an editorial in the Leto High School Legend in October criticizing an extra-credit project chemistry teacher Roohi Junejo had overseen in the fall.


Student journalists say police targeted them after Univ. of Minnesota hockey win

(04/01/02 12:00am)

Student journalists at The Minnesota Daily covering riots following the University of Minnesota's national hockey championship went from covering the news to becoming the news in early April. Four student journalists -- three photographers and a reporter -- said they were taking photos and notes April 7 when they suddenly became the targets of police officers.




Alaska student suspended for off-campus "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner goes to court

(04/01/02 12:00am)

The Alaska Civil Liberties Union filed suit against a Juneau school board and principal in federal court on April 25 for violating a student's free-speech rights after he displayed a banner off school property that read, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." Principal Deborah Morse of Juneau-Douglas High School suspended senior Joseph Frederick for 10 days after she saw him hold up the banner during the city's Olympic torch rally last January.


Supreme Court weighs whether students can sue schools for privacy violations under FERPA

(04/01/02 12:00am)

The U.S. Supreme Court on April 24 heard arguments in Gonzaga University v. Doe, its second case this term involving student privacy issues at federally funded schools. The Court will decide whether individual students have a legal right to sue private institutions and seek damages for the release of personal information regulated by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, also commonly known as the Buckley Amendment. The 1974 statute penalizes federally funded institutions that release "education records" without the prior written consent of students or their parents.


Fired adviser settles claim with Georgia university for $192,000

(04/01/02 12:00am)

A college newspaper adviser who sued Fort Valley State University for not renewing his contract in 1998 has won what may be the largest settlement of its kind, including $192,000 and the establishment of new publications guidelines at the university. In March, John Schmitt finalized a settlement wherein the state of Georgia will reimburse $117,000 of his legal fees and Fort Valley State, where he formerly served as communications adviser, will compensate him $75,000 and adopt a liberal publications policy that will protect future advisers. Schmitt and Hollie Manheimer, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who represented him, crafted the new publications policy to "protect advisers," and it includes specific sections on protected speech and adviser job security. Schmitt sued the university after his contract was not renewed in the spring of 1998, claiming censorship and racial bias led to his dismissal.



Univ. of Connecticut student TV show draws protests -- but so far no censorship

(05/01/02 12:00am)

A program on the University of Connecticut's closed-circuit television network sparked protests earlier this month from students who complained about the show's racy content. "I Did Your Mother," the title of the late-night call-in show on UCTV, is hosted by two students who discuss sex topics and sometimes have their guests perform humorous acts. But not everyone at the university is laughing.


Vermont Principals' Association agrees to open doors and records to public

(05/01/02 12:00am)

The Vermont Principals' Association agreed to voluntarily comply with the state's sunshine law after a lawmaker proposed a bill to strip the group of its power overseeing interscholastic sports. The organization was founded to establish rules for school sports, but in recent years it has taken on more responsibility dealing with other extracurricular activities.