Spring 1999

Silencing youth will not stop the violence

Two days after the shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., the Student Press Law Center started hearing the stories we knew would come. Read more

On-line 'heckling' gets student suspended

\nGEORGIA - "It is a wonder how we cause so much trouble\nand avoid recieving [sic] the proper punishment." So boasted 14-year-old Matt Foreman, a.k.a. Read more

Student punished for private Web site

\nMISSOURI - A punishable action of defiance or an expression\nof free speech? The line is hazy for some administrators when\na student uses the Internet to criticize his school. Few would question the disciplining of a student who calls a teacher\na name to his face. Read more

Internet censorship battle rages on

\nPENNSYLVANIA - The fight over government regulation of\nthe Internet will return to the courts this summer as the fight\nover the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) continues. In April, the Justice Department appealed a ruling that had blocked\nthe enforcement of Congress's second attempt to censor the Internet.\nThis move came on the day a preliminary injunction against the\nlaw, which had been granted by a U.S. Read more

Sen. McCain reintroduces Internet censorship bill

\nWASHINGTON, D.C. - If at first you don't succeed, change\na few words, give it a new name, and reintroduce your bill to\nCongress the next session. Read more

Court says state employees' Internet use can be regulated

\nVIRGINIA - After round two, the score is now even between\na group of free speech-advocating Virginia professors and the\nstate government in a battle over Internet regulation. Read more

Utah student sings censorship

\nUTAH - When student Dave Matthews moved to Kearns, Utah,\nat the beginning of this school year, he brought along the homemade\nnewspaper he started at his former high school. Read more

Court labels 'hacking' article disruptive

\nWISCONSIN - A student journalist's last effort to erase\nan expulsion from his disciplinary record failed last December\nwhen a judge dismissed his civil case. Read more

Newspaper allowed to run murder series

\nSOUTH CAROLINA - When Maranda Williams' first of a four\narticle series appeared in her high school newspaper, it quickly\ndrew wide-eyed awes from students and teachers. Read more

Michigan Supreme Court rejects flier distribution case

\nMICHIGAN - After Michelle Green's appeal challenging her\nformer high school's prior review policy was denied, she took\nher case to the Michigan Supreme Court and found the same disconcerting\nlack of welcome: Her appeal was rejected. Green's attorney, George Washington, said the court gave no reason\nfor the denial in February, but said it probably stood behind\nthe state court of appeals' decision that Greene lacked legal\nstanding to bring the case. Read more

Student expelled for underground

\nWISCONSIN - The Wisconsin Dells School Board expelled a\n16-year-old student in February for five years after distributing\nan underground newspaper on school grounds, which school officials\nfound offensive. Read more

ACLU flies suit on behalf of one of the 'Killian Nine'

\nFLORIDA - The local press has dubbed them "The Killian\nNine." If this was the Old West, the profiles of these high\nschool students would be plastered on "wanted" posters.\nBut it is the 1990s, and instead, they have an ACLU attorney\non their side, filing a lawsuit against the county and school\nboard. Read more

Principal stops newspaper because of 'offensive' language

\nMISSOURI - The principal at Parkway West High School removed\nall of the copies of the school's student newspaper, Pathfinder,\nfrom the stands in March, because the words "crotch itch"\nappeared on the cover. The newspaper was part of the sixth annual "Battle of the\nSexes," a newspaper series that explores gender-related issues.\nThis year's topic was "Beauty vs. Read more

Letter to the editor gets newspaper in trouble

\nMICHIGAN - When a feud between the Marshall High School\ncheerleading squad went public through the school's student newspaper\nthanks to a letter to the editor by two anonymous former cheerleaders,\nsome parents and administrators tried to shoot the messenger. \nAfter a February issue of Smoke Signals came back from\nthe printing press, Principal Ray Davis ordered the "controversial"\narticle to be blackened out with a marker, believing it to be\nan inappropriate bashing of the sport. Read more

Newspapers pulled due to politically incorrect phrase

\nNEW YORK - The editor of Tully High School's student newspaper\nreceived heavy criticism from his community, school and local\nnewspaper for running an announcement about an annual school-sponsored\nevent and calling it a "slave auction." Angry administrators pulled all 500 copies of the newspaper off\nthe stands, because the phrase "slave auction," they\nsaid, was banned last year and changed to "butler auction." Student editor Lucas Ames claimed he was not informed of the change\nand was upset that administrators confiscated the newspapers.\nThe newspaper's budget, said Ames, could not afford a reprint\nof the paper. Read more

State anti-Hazelwood legislation faces success. defeats

\nIllinois' legislation counteracting the 1988 Supreme Court\ndecision of Hazelwood School District v. Read more

Principal denies student's editorial

\nTEXAS - The definition of irony: When Adam Martinez wrote\nan editorial for the high school newspaper, he demanded a stop\nto an act he thought controversial, but his principal pulled the\nstory, fearing it would be, well, too controversial. Martinez's editorial in the Dixie Dispatch, of which adviser John\nBriggs approved, criticized students' behavior at football games,\nwhere the team is known as the Rebels, for waiving Confederate\nflags. Read more

Television policy finally adopted at Blair High School

\nMARYLAND - After more than three years of discussing and\ndebating, Blair High School finally has accepted a broadcasting\nguideline and regulation proposal for their student television\nstation. Read more

State-wide prior review case in Hawaii still lingers

\nHAWAII - Hawaii's department of education confronted some\nmajor criticism last fall after proposing a guideline that would\nhave required public school administrators throughout the state\nto exercise prior review over all student publications. Read more

Judge throws out students' plea

\nMISSOURI - She has been called by students John David and\nMatt Sevart the best teacher and mentor they ever had. Read more

Former paper adviser receives cash, award

FLORIDA - ReLeah Lent, former adviser to Making\nWaves, the student newspaper at Mosley High School in Bay\nCounty, Fla, will receive the annual PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment\nAward, which includes a cash prize of $25,000. Read more

Adviser removed in anti-Hazelwood state

\nCOLORADO - Leigh Campbell-Hale says she does not plan to\nfight her removal as adviser to the high school student newspaper,\neven though her school is in one of the six states that has passed\nlegislation to counteract the 1988 Supreme Court decision of Hazelwood\nSchool District v. Read more

Adviser receives $20,000 settlement

\nWASHINGTON - A battle may have been won for the First Amendment,\nbut not without casualties as a Stanwood High School English teacher\nreceived a $20,000 settlement after she was let go from her newspaper\nadvising position. Read more

Bridge over troubled water

\nNEW YORK - The state's highest court ruled Feb. 11 that\na community college committee violated the state open meetings\nlaw when it imposed restrictions on a student newspaper and allocated\nstudent fees in a private session. "The Open Meetings Law is designed to ensure that public\nbusiness is conducted in an observable manner; to promote this\ngoal, the provisions of the Open Meetings Law are to be liberally\nconstrued," Judge Joseph W. Read more

For public officials, open records remain open

\nWISCONSIN - The Wisconsin Court of Appeals upheld a ruling\nin March that will make it hard for a public officials to avoid\nscrutiny into their wrongdoing by resigning. The court ruled that privacy and reputational interests of a former\ngovernment employee do not outweigh the public interest in the\ndisclosure of records concerning an investigation into wrongdoing. "This ruling was not much of a surprise," said Phil\nBrinkman, a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. "The\nsad part is that it has dragged on for so long." The case arose from a controversy that began in 1996 over questions\nabout a Madison elementary school principal's past, including\nallegations of sexual molestation of several school girls. Read more

Athletes' unpaid parking tickets recorded in paper

\nMARYLAND - After a three-year battle, records documenting\nparking ticket abuses by University of Maryland student athletes\nare finally in the hands of the student newspaper, The Diamondback. \nIn December, Maryland's high court ruled that information about\nunpaid parking tickets charged to student athletes and coaches\nas well as NCAA records of related violations must be open to\nthe public. Read more

Access bills die in committee

\nMICHIGAN - - Two proposed bills that stemmed from a Michigan\nSupreme Court case in which the court ordered that performance\nevaluations of school officials be released are essentially dead. House Bill 4936, sponsored by former Rep. Read more

FERPA changes result in triumph in Mo.

\nMISSOURI - In the first legal actions filed since the 1998\namendments to the Higher Education Act made changes to the federal\nFamily Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), commonly known\nas the Buckley Amendment, a state judge ordered Southwest Missouri\nState University to release student disciplinary records to the\nschool newspaper in a January court decision. Missouri Circuit Court Judge Henry Westbrook wrote in his ruling\nin Board of Governors v. Read more

Clearing up changes to Higher Education Act

\nWASHINGTON, D.C. - Although Congress recognized the danger\nof allowing schools to cover up campus crime by passing the 1998\namendments to the Higher Education Act, many schools across the\ncountry are still unsure as to how these changes apply to them. The law has mandated that universities release information in\npolice logs, as well as more information on crime statistics. \nProperly implemented, these changes could mean enhanced student\nsafety on campuses across the country. Read more

Smoother sailing for campus crime reporting

Violence and crime are not the norm at the University of Hartford.\nBut in late January, one party got out of hand, and a few students\ndrew handguns in anger. Read more

U. of Tennessee refuses to release records

\nTENNESSEE - University of Tennessee administrators are\ncontinuing to hide behind outdated laws, refusing to release records\nof university judicial proceedings in accordance with last year's\namendments to the Higher Education Act, say access advocates. The student newspaper at the University of Tennessee's Martin\ncampus and the nonprofit organization Security on Campus have\nboth been denied access to records describing the outcome of disciplinary\nproceedings at school. Read more

'College Hazelwood' case hits the Sixth Circuit

\nOHIO - The heat is on in a federal appellate court as the\nbattle rages over First Amendment rights and prior restraint in\nthe Kincaid v. Read more

Kincaid v. advisers

It was a decision that changed high school newspapers across\nthe country. Hazelwood East High School near St. Read more

Supreme Court to hear student activity fees case

\nWISCONSIN - The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider\na case that could determine whether a university can charge students\nmandatory student activity fees to finance political clubs and\nother groups that express unpopular views. Read more

Freedom of expression bills considered

\nARKANSAS - The Arkansas House of Representatives passed\nHouse Bill 1031 in January, which would allow all public school\nstudents freedom of expression. Read more

Case closed: Campus and city papers cut deal

\nIOWA - After three years of battling, Iowa State's student-run\nnewspaper, the Iowa State Daily, has agreed to put $50,000\ninto a scholarship fund as part of a legal settlement with the\nowners of the community newspaper, The Ames Daily Tribune.\nThe Feb. Read more

Columbia reporter denied credentials

\nNEW YORK - Daniel Sorid's fight for press credentials\nas a reporter for the Columbia Daily Spectator remains\nunresolved, as his application was once again, and officially,\nrejected. Read more

Radio duo taken off air during reading

\nWISCONSIN - Two radio announcers at St. Norbert College\nwere silenced during their reading of J.D. Read more

Paper runs candidate endorsement, faces backlash

\nFLORIDA - Despite the fact the student newspaper had published\nsimilar items for the past five years, the student government\nat Florida A&M University decided this spring to take an active\nstance against the publication of a newspaper endorsement of a\ncampus presidential candidate. The student government froze the Fauman's funds for\ntwo weeks and has tentatively reduced its funding for next year\nfrom $58,000 to $40,000. Read more

Rhode Island controversy uncovers debt

\nRHODE ISLAND - The decision to run a controversial comic\nin The Good 5-Cent Cigar at the University of Rhode Island\nin December has cost the paper $41,000 and put the campus through\na tumultuous finals period and reconvening of campus in January.\n An outstanding debt was discovered in response to the controversy\nover the cartoon, when the student government froze the newspaper's\nfunds and examined how much student money went into publishing\nthe paper. Read more

Blank page causes uproar at Auburn University

\nALABAMA - Freedom of the press has been pushed to the limit\nat Auburn University. The school's weekly newspaper, The Auburn\nPlainsman, and its editor in chief, Lee Davidson, came under\nfire for a series of investigative articles that called for the\nresignation of one of the university's trustees. On Dec. Read more

Across the country, newspaper thefts abound

\nNewspaper theft has no boundaries as the trend seems to occur\non campuses public and private, in suburbs and cities. In protest to campus newspaper content, coverage or even reporter\ntreatment, disgruntled students are taking it upon themselves\nto censor the newspaper by stealing many issues, sometimes even\nthe entire press run, costing the publication thousands of dollars\nin reprinting costs and lost advertising revenue. Some of these students argue that it is their First Amendment\nright to freedom of speech to take piles of the campus paper from\ndistribution sites if they so choose. Read more

College privacy case settled

\nPENNSYLVANIA - An invasion of privacy case involving the\nuse of a college student's image has been settled out of court.\n Koran Christian, who graduated from Lafayette College in 1996,\nsued the school in 1997 when he discovered the school had used\na photo of him and his mother on a financial aid brochure. Read more

Paying for free speech

The Student Press Law Center has begun to receive calls from\nmembers of the college press who report that school administrators\nor those acting on their behalf (for example, student government\nofficials, media boards, etc.) are beginning to tell them to discontinue\nprinting political editorials or endorsements. Read more

Cop confiscates, throws away reporter's notes

PENNSYLVANIA - Tensions have brewed to boiling point\nat the University of Pittsburgh between the student newspaper\nstaff and the campus police after an officer ripped up a reporter's\nnotes and then allegedly lied about their whereabouts. Read more

Police confiscate film from photography student

NEW YORK - A jury found a photography student not guilty\nof harassment and resisting arrest, but guilty of disorderly conduct\nin April after he says he was beaten, arrested and then had his\nfilm confiscated by police in May 1998. Read more

Students and ACLU fight for the right to advertise alcohol in newspapers

\nPENNSYLVANIA - Ever since a state law was first enforced\nin 1997 prohibiting the advertisement of alcohol in any publication\nby, for or on behalf of any educational institution, most college\nand university student newspapers in Pennsylvania, as well as\nthe bars and restaurants that advertise in them, wanted the law\ngone. Read more

Community protests against adult night club ads

\nHAWAII - After seeing scantily clad women in the student\nnewspaper, students and faculty, as well as some members of the\ncommunity, protested in front of the University of Hawaii at Manoa's\nBoard of Publication that the newspaper demeaned women. Read more