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Hazelwood turns 25: Five simple ways you can make sure it never turns 50

(01/06/13 2:13pm)

A movie of trained fighting dogs ripping each other to pieces. Ten million dollars from an undisclosed source dumped into a special-interest ad campaign to sway the outcome of an election. A padded resumé falsely claiming credit for military heroism. A video game in which players tear the limbs off their opponents, then beat them to death with the blood-soaked stumps. "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" hate-speech signs waved outside of a military funeral. A newspaper editorial advocating the defeat of a school board candidate who supports banning books. The Supreme Court thinks one of these is unprotected by the First Amendment. If you guessed it was the editorial, then you are likely either (a) a federal judge or (b) a victim of Hazelwood justice. This coming Sunday marks 25 years since the Supreme Court confined America's young people to a constitutional underclass in Hazelwood School District v.

Supreme Court justices' papers give some hints about how Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier came to be

(01/09/13 6:25pm)

Education Week's Mark Walsh, a veteran Supreme Court reporter who deeply understands education law, is just out with a fascinating look behind the scenes at how the high court arrived at the First Amendment legal standard that governs much of the speech taking place in schools (and, increasingly, in colleges). The entire piece is well worth reading, but it's particularly enlightening for the nuggets Walsh was able to unearth from the papers of Justices Byron White, author of the majority opinion in Hazelwood School District v.

Court cites Hazelwood to defend school's removal of religious reference

(02/13/13 7:17pm)

As co-president of the Taconic Hills Middle School student council, an eighth grade student had a warm message to share with her classmates at the school’s annual “Moving Up” ceremony in June 2009. “As we say our goodbyes and leave middle school behind, I say to you, may the LORD bless you and keep you; make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace." But a decision issued last month from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York defended the New York school district’s right to remove that very closing line from the unnamed student’s speech.

Does legalized censorship make students less likely to criticize school administrators? One study suggests "yes."

(02/09/14 5:28pm)

Student newspapers in states with legal protection against censorship publish many more editorials than those in states lacking protective laws, and their editorials are more likely to be critical of school policies. That's the takeaway from a recently published study in the Maine Law Review by an attorney and former Iowa school-board member who concludes that "a free student press has far-reaching positive consequences that reverberate through the public schools and beyond." Author Tyler Buller's article is the most comprehensive nationwide look at whether state laws counteracting the Supreme Court's 1988 ruling in Hazelwood School District v.

Appeals court's "ethnic studies" ruling fortifies students' rights to receive information

(07/20/15 4:46pm)

A federal appeals court allowed student plaintiffs to go forward with due process and First Amendment challenges to the state of Arizona's decision to eliminate "ethnic studies" courses from the K-12 curriculum. The court's 3-0 decision is remarkable for recognizing that students have a constitutionally protected right to receive information even in the classroom setting, a principle that may strengthen the hand of future student plaintiffs.

Constitution Day lesson plan highlights North Dakota's new student press rights protections

(09/16/15 9:59am)

Thursday, Sept. 17, is Constitution Day, when all schools must set aside time to teach about constitutional principles. For Constitution Day 2015, the SPLC has created a classroom lesson plan to get young people talking about the nation's newest student-rights statute, the New Voices of North Dakota Act, and how it fortifies their federally protected First Amendment rights.

Appeals court won't apply Hazelwood to teacher trainee's case, instead creates new "professional standards" exception

(12/29/15 5:47pm)

A federal appeals court sided with the University of Hawaii's dismissal of a student who made unprofessional comments that the university believed rendered him unfit to enter the teaching profession. The ruling appears to lower the bar for the protection of students' speech when enrolled in a pre-professional program, enabling colleges to remove those students even without showing that their speech was unlawful or disruptive.