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Case Law Cases that impact student journalists. West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnett (1943) West Virginia required all students to say the.

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Presentation on theme: "Case Law Cases that impact student journalists. West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnett (1943) West Virginia required all students to say the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Case Law Cases that impact student journalists

2 West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnett (1943) West Virginia required all students to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Refusal was considered an act of insubordination and subjected teachers and students. Required a “salute” to the flag, similar to Hitler’s salute. Objections were raised by many groups A lawsuit was brought and it went to the US Supreme Court Decision = 1 st Amendment protections apply to students

3 Tinker v. Des Moines School Independent Community School District (1969) In 1965 students wear black arm bands to school to protest the Vietnam war. School board found out about and made rule to prohibit the wearing of the bands. Students wore them anyway. Many students wore the armbands, but only 5 were suspended for their refusal. Lawsuit was filed in the US District Court, which ruled that school board could limit the freedom of speech in the name of protection of the student body.

4 Tinker (con’t) Supreme Court ruled: 1. students’ speech was protected 2. Students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” 3. School officials may not punish or prohibit student speech unless they can clearly demonstrate that it will result in a material and substantial disruption of normal school activities or invade the rights of others.

5 Zucker vs. Panirz (1969 – 3 months after Tinker) Principal at New Rochelle High School directed student newspaper editor to NOT run an ad against the Vietnam War. New York District Court ruled: 1. Principal can not censor student newspaper 2. “The school newspaper appears to have been open to the fee expression of ideas in the news and editorial columns as well as in letters to the editor.” 3. First Amendment protects students “non-disruptive” expression.

6 Gambino v. Fairfax County School Board (1977) Student editors of a school-sponsored newspaper in Virginia conducted a survey of their peers and found out students were having unprotected sex. The editors prepared a news story to provide information about the available forms of birth control. The school principal said the story violated school policy about teaching sex-education and prohibited the story from being published. The students filed suit.

7 Gambino (con’t) The School Board claimed that the student newspaper was an “in-house” publication of the school board and therefore there was NOT a public forum, as set forth in Zucker. The courts ruled “the extent of state involvement in providing funding and facilities…does not determine whether First Amendment Rights are applicable.” Bottom Line: Even though it is a student newspaper, published on a school campus and with school board support, the 1 st Amendment Freedom of Speech rights still apply.

8 Bethel School District No. 403 vs. Fraser (1986) On April 26, 1983, respondent Matthew N. Fraser, a student at Bethel High School in Pierce County, Washington, delivered a speech nominating a fellow student for student elective office. The assembly was part of a school- sponsored educational program in self-government. Students who elected not to attend the assembly were required to report to study hall. During the entire speech, Fraser referred to his candidate in terms of an elaborate, graphic, and explicit sexual metaphor.

9 Bethel (con’t) Fraser was suspended for 3 days for violating school policy against the use of obscene language. Fraser appealed the suspension through the school board claiming protected speech. The school examiner ruled that the language was “obscene” under the school board provisions. The student and his parents filed suit in Federal Court.

10 Bethel (con’t) Ultimately the Supreme Court ruled: 1. Affirmed the provision of Tinker that states “students do not ‘shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.’ " 2. But – “a high school sponsored newspaper produced as part of a class and without a ‘policy or practice’ establishing it as a public forum for student expression could be censored where school officials demonstrated a reasonable educational justification and where their censorship was viewpoint neutral.”

11 Hazelwood School District vs. Kuhlmeier (1988) The principal of Hazelwood East High School censored the student newspaper’s special teen section which included articles on teen pregnancy and the impact of divorce on students. The students sued in Federal Court on the grounds that their 1 st Amendment rights to free speech had been violated. The District Court ruled that the Students’ First Amendment rights had NOT been violated.

12 Hazelwood (con’t) The students appealed. The 8 th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court decision, relying on Tinker. The US Supreme Court reversed the Appeals Court ruling and stating that a high school-sponsored newspaper produced as part of a class and without a “policy or practice” establishing it as a public forum for student expression COULD BE CENSORED where school officials can demonstrate a reasonable justification and where their censorship was viewpoint neutral.

13 Dean v. Utica Community Schools (2004) The case involved an effort by students to publish a story in their student newspaper, the Arrow, about a lawsuit filed against their school district. As the paper was about to go to press, school officials told the adviser it could not be published. When Editor Katy Dean contested the censorship, the court concluded that the Arrow was a public forum.

14 Dean (con’t) The court noted that 1. The newspaper was produced in relationship to a class with a faculty adviser. 2. Students were allowed to take the class for credit more than once. 3. The newspaper published letters and guest columns from anyone. 4. A community newspaper published articles from it regularly. 5. The paper was not subject to prior review by the administration 6. And no policy existed indicating that the paper was not a public forum. 2

15 Dean (con’t) The Court then concluded that even if the paper was a non-public forum to which the Hazelwood standard applied, the court ruled that the censorship of the Arrow did not reasonably relate to legitimate pedagogical concerns.


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