Winter 1999-2000

Former Auburn editor who battled censure wins press freedom award

\nThe former editor of the Auburn University student newspaper who\nwas threatened with removal because of her paper's critical coverage\nof a university trustee has received the 1999 Scholastic Press\nFreedom Award. The award, sponsored by the Student Press Law Center and the\nNational Scholastic Press Association/Associated Collegiate Press,\nis given each year to the high school or college student journalist\nor student news medium that has demonstrated outstanding support\nfor the free press rights of students. Lee Davidson, the 1998-99 editor of The Auburn Plainsman, who\nis now a reporter for the Mobile Register, accepted the award\nbefore an audience of hundreds of college journalists and advisers\nat the Associated Collegiate Press/College Media Advisers national\nconvention in Atlanta on Nov. Read more

25 years of defending press freedom

\nA few loyal Report readers may realize that this season\nmarks a significant anniversary for the Student Press Law Center.\nIn the winter of 1974, the SPLC began providing legal assistance\nand information to the student press. Read more


\nA story on page 4 of the Fall 1999 SPLC Report, "Testing\nfor Compliance," incorrectly stated that in 1998 Congress\namended the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, also known\nas the Buckley Amendment, so that certain student disciplinary\nproceedings involving crimes of violence and nonforcible sex offenses\nare no longer considered "education records." In fact,\nthe 1998 amendment did not change the definition of education\nrecords, but instead said that schools can release the outcomes\nof such disciplinary proceedings without notifying a disciplined\nstudent in advance. Read more

U.S. Court of Appeals throws out its initial decision in censorship case

OHIO -- A federal appeals court in Cincinnati agreed to reconsider its September decision in the college censorship case Kincaid v. Read more

Supreme Court hears arguments in Wisonsin student fees case

\nWASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments\nin November in a case that could dramatically affect the future\nof the public college student media by determining whether students\ncan be forced to fund student activities that advocate political\nor ideological views. Read more

Students accuse college of attempt to censor paper

NEW YORK -- The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit\nagainst a Buffalo community college following a decision by the\nschool's board of trustees to halt production of the student newspapers\nat each of the college's three branches and consolidate them into\none newspaper sponsored by the public relations department. Read more

Miami school faces lawsuit over literature distribution

\nFLORIDA -- Five students at Miami-Dade Community College are\nsuing the school for prohibiting them from handing out written\nmaterial on campus, saying the college's literature distribution\npolicy violates their right to free speech. Read more

University suspends student leader for sending death threats to editor

\nNORTH CAROLINA -- "Everything that comes out of your\nwork is a lie," began an e-mail message sent to the editor\nof the University of North Carolina at Charlotte's student newspaper. "It will be a pleasure to watch you bleed to death!!"\nthe message continued, "Prepare to die!!!" The message, which threatened University Times editor\nJillian McCartney with explicit physical and sexual torture, was\ndetermined by an administrative board at the university to have\nbeen sent to McCartney by the school's former student body president.\n The board suspended Nicholas Mirisis in September for at least\ntwo years. Read more

UC system to revise campus free-speech policy

\nCALIFORNIA -- In a victory for University of California at\nSan Diego students' right to free speech, the school agreed to\nsettle a lawsuit filed by sophomore Ryan Benjamin Shapiro, who\nsued the school after he claimed it violated his First and 14th\nAmendment rights. Read more


\nCALIFORNIA -- More than 100 colleges and universities around\nthe country have signed up to participate in a pilot readership\nprogram that would provide USA Today and other commercial\nnewspapers to campus residents for a small yearly fee. Read more

Toronto Star's distribution deal angers Canadian students

\nTORONTO -- Unlike their U.S. counterparts, student newspaper\neditors in Canada are fighting a plan by the Toronto Star to\ndistribute its newspapers on college campuses by filing a complaint\nwith a government agency. Read more

Magazine fights for survival

\nWYOMING -- The University of Wyoming's student publications\nboard decided in October not to eliminate Frontiers magazine\nafter announcing that Frontiers and two other publications\nmight be eliminated in order to channel funds into the student\nnewspaper. Read more

Poor sales prompt yearbook takeover

\nPENNSYLVANIA -- After only a quarter of the 3,000 seniors\nat the University of Pittsburgh purchased a yearbook last year\n-- leaving the publication with a large deficit -- administrators\nstepped in, transferring control over the yearbook from students\nto the public affairs department. "The yearbook was about to go out of business anyway,"\nsaid Ken Service, a university spokesman. Read more

Judicial board member loses position for writing column

NEW YORK -- A columnist for the student newspaper at Syracuse\nUniversity was fired from his position on the school's judicial\nboard after he penned a column accusing the judicial affairs office\nof abusing its power. Read more

Students steal 3,000 papers to protest front-page photo

CALIFORNIA -- After publishing a picture of a Hispanic\nman's arrest on the front page of its Oct. Read more

Judge: Professor's suspension violates First Amendment

\nMICHIGAN -- A community college professor is back in the classroom\nafter a federal judge issued an injunction in September blocking\nthe school from suspending him for using crude language. Read more

Newspaper thefts mulitply on campus

Across the country, at least nine college student publications\nhave been hit by newspaper thefts since September. Read more

Student journalist spends night in jail

COLORADO -- Denver police arrested a student journalist\nin September as he tried to take a photo of a friend being handcuffed\nduring the chaotic aftermath of a football game between Colorado\nState and the University of Colorado. Read more

Prosecutor subpoenas videotape of break-in at animal laboratory from newspaper editor

WASHINGTON -- A Superior Court judge ordered the editor\nof Western Washington University's student newspaper to turn over\na videotape of a break-in at the university's animal research\nlaboratory in November. Read more

California governor signs new open-meetings law

CALIFORNIA -- A new bill signed by Gov. Gray Davis in September\ncould allow a student newspaper's open meetings lawsuit against\nthe University of California's Board of Regents to be reheard.\n The Daily Nexus, the University of California at Santa\nBarbara's student newspaper, sued the board of regents in 1996\nfor violating the Bagley-Keene Act, a state open-meetings law,\nby holding secret meetings. Read more

Student wins freedom of information lawsuit

NEW YORK -- A September New York Supreme Court ruling has\naffirmed the applicability of the state's freedom of information\nlaw to the City University of New York. Read more

Students fight for free press

NEW YORK -- The student newspaper at Freeport High School won a fight to retain the free-press guidelines it has operated under for 30 years in November. After The New York Times published a commentary criticizing the school board's attempt to establish administrative control over the newspaper and a camera crew from the Freedom Forum showed up at one of their meetings, the school board relented and decided to drop its efforts to eliminate the free-press guidelines. Read more

Feature up in smoke when principal axes sex stories

CALIFORNIA -- Despite a law guaranteeing students in the\nGolden State freedom of expression in their student newspapers,\na Santa Clarita principal has found a new basis for censorship\n-- the state sex education code. Read more

Judge rules class assignment about psychedelic drug not free speech

NEW JERSEY -- An administrative law judge ruled in September\nthat a high school teacher who refused to give a student credit\nfor creating a brochure about a hallucinogenic mushroom did not\nviolate the student's First Amendment rights because the 1988\nSupreme Court decision in Hazelwood School District v. Read more

Principal threatens student with suspension for distributing underground paper at school

OHIO -- "Many of you are probably asking yourselves\nwhy we are doing this. The answer is simple: Because we can,"\nNelsonville-York senior Devin Aeh said in the first issue of her\nunderground newspaper, Lock Down. "Because this school can take away our backpacks,"\nAeh wrote. Read more


Six months after the Columbine shooting in Littleton, Colo., that\nleft 15 people dead, students across the country continue to face\nharsh punishments for expressing themselves in ways schools see\nas threatening or even unconventional. Read more

Schools pays suspended student $16,500 in out-of-court settlement

\nOHIO -- A high school student who was suspended for 10\ndays during the hysteria over school violence that followed the\nColumbine shooting settled his lawsuit against the school in October. The Nordonia Hills School District agreed to pay Mark Guidetti\n$16,500 and expunge the suspension from his disciplinary record.\n Guidetti, a senior at Nordonia Hills High School, was suspended\nin April for writing a horoscope column in which he advised Scorpios\nto "practice what your reaction is to all those college applications\nthat you sent out. Read more

Principal censors article on football team hazing

INDIANA -- When Marina Hennessy started working on a story\nabout hazing for Avon High School's student newspaper, she wanted\nto show that incidents, such as an alleged assault involving the\nswim team at nearby Carmel High School, did not happen at Avon.\n Until she found out they did. Read more

Students denied editorships start own paper

CONNECTICUT -- Ben Popik and Brendan Sullivan were set\nto be editors of their school's student newspaper this year, but\nthey were missing one thing: an adviser. Read more

Girl denies giving permission to school paper to use quote

CALIFORNIA -- The parents of a student who admitted using\nillegal drugs in a story published in Alameda High School's student\nnewspaper filed a formal complaint with the school district in\nOctober. Read more

Principal suspends student for starting rumors with photo

\nTEXAS -- The Midland Independent School District has become\nembroiled in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a student\nwho was suspended, placed in an alternative school and barred\nfrom attending his own graduation -- all because he refused to\napologize for a picture he had in his closet at home. Read more

Police arrest football players for vandalizing reporter's car

\nINDIANA -- Sixteen Greenwood High School students were arrested\nin September for vandalizing the car of a classmate who wrote\na column in the school newspaper criticizing the football team.\n Several of the students charged in the incident were members\nof the football team. Read more

Students resist mandate to publish statement

\nCALIFORNIA -- Student journalists are resisting a mandate\nfrom the Oakland Unified School District to print a message in\ntheir high school newspapers stating the district's compliance\nwith federal nondiscrimination rules, pointing to a California\nlaw that prohibits school officials from dictating the content\nof student publications. Read more

Student sues to distribute religious texts at school

\nMISSOURI -- A 15-year-old high school student filed suit against\nher school district and former principal in August, saying the\nschool's distribution policy for independent publications violates\nstudents' right to free expression. Read more

California court strikes hearing costs for teachers

\nCALIFORNIA -- The California Supreme Court threw out a law\nin May that required teachers challenging a dismissal to pay for\ntheir court hearings should they lose their legal battles. Read more

Two schools to release campus court records

Private or public, federal law now permits colleges to release\ninformation from judicial hearings about students who commit violent\ncrimes or nonforcible sex offenses. Read more

New security disclosure rules require administrators to report campus crime

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- New regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education in November will require college and university administrators -- not just campus police or security officers -- to report offenses revealed to them in their institutions' annual campus crime statistics. The DOE said this new reporting requirement reflects "the reality that on college campuses, officials who are not police officials ... nevertheless are responsible for students' or campus security." Under the new regulations, campus administrators with "significant responsibility for student and campus activities" will have to publicly report campus crime statistics for incidents known to them. S. Read more

DOE tells college to correct annual statistics

\nWEST VIRGINIA -- The U.S. Department of Education told\na college to correct its reporting of campus crime statistics\nin September. Read more

Yearbook escapes student's lawsuit

\nNEW JERSEY -- The yearbook staff at Richard Stockton College\nis relieved but cautious following the dismissal of a lawsuit\nfiled by a student seeking almost $10,000 from the college due\nto a mistake in the yearbook. Read more

Judge dismisses libel suit against reporter

CALIFORNIA -- A superior court judge dismissed a police\nofficer's libel suit against a student reporter in October based\non a California statute designed to prevent lawsuits aimed at\nintimidating public speech. Read more

Federal court blocks state Internet ban

\nCOLORADO -- A federal appeals court in Denver prohibited\nNew Mexico officials from enforcing the state's ban on Internet\nspeech deemed "harmful to minors" in November, saying\nthe law "effectively bans speech that is constitutionally\nprotected for adults." The U.S. Read more

Student expelled for home page sues private school

\nNEW YORK -- In an unusual case of a private school being\nsued for violating a student's First Amendment rights, a suburban\nNew York student has filed a lawsuit against his Catholic high\nschool for expelling him due to his personal Web site. Read more

Student settles Web-related suit against school district

\nMISSOURI -- One of the first high school students to sue\na school district that punished him for the content of a personal\nWeb site settled his case against the district in July. Read more

Professor declares Teacher Review site defamatory, files lawsuit against creator

CALIFORNIA -- A professor at the City College of San Francisco filed a lawsuit in October against a former CCSF student over a Web site that allows students to post reviews of professors. "It's sending lies, death threats and defamation against teachers around the world," English professor Daniel Curzon-Brown said of the Teacher Review Web site. Curzon-Brown charged in his suit that the site has caused him emotional distress by publishing statements about him and other professors that are false and defamatory. Read more

Student suspended for 18 weeks will not fight punishment

GEORGIA -- A middle school student has decided not to sue\nthe school district that suspended him for 18 weeks in February\nfor creating a personal Web site critical of his school. Read more