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Louisiana bullying frenzy -- violating the First Amendment, or just trying to?

(05/29/12 9:24am)

In the waning days of their 2012 session, Louisiana legislators have the unappetizing choice between two anti-bullying bills: One that violates the Constitution, and another that is intended to. To understand how thoroughly cyberbullying hysteria has taken hold of state legislators, consider the disappointed comments of state Rep.

New Jersey bill protects college students' social media passwords, usernames

(11/07/12 11:44am)

A bill awaiting the governor's approval in New Jersey would make it illegal for colleges and universities to require students or applicants' social media user names or passwords. The bill prohibits both private and public colleges or universities from asking for social media passwords or usernames.

Back in session, state lawmakers introduce new legislation on cyberbullying

(01/23/13 6:47pm)

With the start of a new legislative session in many statehouses, cyberbullying has reappeared on the radar this month. Legislators in four states have all proposed bills that either amend the definition of "bullying" or require school boards to implement policy regarding cyberbullying and other forms of harassment. States with pending legislation on issues of bullying and cyberbullying include: Alaska: A proposal to amend the state's bullying law to include electronic as well as in-person communications. New Mexico: Another proposal to include cyberbullying as a form of bullying, as well as a requirement for school boards to implement a "cyberbullying prevention policy" by August 2013. New York: A proposal to revise the state's newly enacted 2012 cyberbullying law to define cyberbullying as "a repeated course of communication, or repeatedly causing a communication to be sent, by mechanical or electronic means, posting statements on the internet or through a computer network with no legitimate communication purpose which causes alarm or serious annoyance, or is likely to cause alarm or serious annoyance." Virginia: Clarifies the term "bullying" and requires districts to enact anti-bullying policies not just involving student-on-student conduct but also bullying of school employees by other employees. It is difficult to characterize cyberbullying legislation as a free speech issue because of the understandable public sympathy over bullying's influence on young people.

Penn State's silence on Clery report shows need for public records reform

(07/16/13 1:08pm)

Last week, the Department of Education issued its preliminary report, part of its investigation into whether Pennsylvania State University violated the Clery Act in its handling of allegations of sexual abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. It will likely be years, though, before the public learns what the department uncovered in its far-reaching review of campus safety practices at the school since 1998 — one of the largest and most high-profile investigations ever. The reason for the secrecy is two-fold. A federal law requires the Department of Education to maintain the confidentiality of any program reviews until the final program report is issued.

TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Taking stock of where legislatures broadened -- and narrowed -- public access laws in 2013

(07/23/13 9:41pm)

Summertime means most state legislatures have called it quits for the year, which means it's timely to assess where the public's right of access to meetings and records has advanced and where it has declined. Here are a few examples of newly enacted changes in state open-government laws that journalists should be aware of.

"Campus free expression" bills may benefit protestors, but offer little new hope for college journalists

(06/30/17 4:18pm)

Campus free expression bills addressing protests and demonstrations have become law in four states this year with many more teed up for consideration, including one awaiting the governor's approval in North Carolina, but the hope they offer for students facing newsroom censorship obstacles is minimal.