In addition to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, states can provide additional free speech protection to their own citizens by enacting state laws or regulations. The Kansas Student Free Expression Law is such a provision and provides student journalists attending Kansas public high schools with added protection against administrative censorship.
K.S.A. 72-7209—Kansas Student Publications Act:
72-7209 Citation of act. This act shall be known and may be cited as the student publications act.
72-7210. Definitions. As used in this act:
(a) “School district” means any public school district organized and operating under the laws of this state.
(b) “Student publication” means any matter which is prepared, substantially written, or published by students, which is distributed or generally made available, either free of charge or for a fee, to members of the student body, and which is prepared under the direction of a certified employee.
72-7211. Liberty of press protected; regulation authorized; review of material not restraint on publication; material not protected; responsibilities of editor and advisers; liability, immunity and limitations.
(a) The liberty of the press in student publications shall be protected. School employees may regulate the number, length, frequency, distribution and format of student publications. Material shall not be suppressed solely because it involves political or controversial subject matter.
(b) Review of material prepared for student publications and encouragement of the expression of such material in a manner that is consistent with high standards of English and journalism shall not be deemed to be or construed as a restraint on publication of the material or an abridgment of the right to freedom of expression in student publications.
(c) Publication or other expression that is libelous, slanderous or obscene or matter that commands, requests, induces, encourages, commends or promotes conduct that is defined by law as a crime or conduct that constitutes a ground or grounds for the suspension or expulsion of students as enumerated in K.S.A. 72-8901, and amendments thereto, or which creates material or substantial disruption of the normal school activity is not protected by this act.
(d) Subject to the limitations imposed by this section, student editors of student publications are responsible for determining the news, opinion, and advertising content of such publications. Student publication advisers and other certified employees who supervise or direct the preparation of material for expression in student publications are responsible for teaching and encouraging free and responsible expression of material and high standards of English and journalism. No such adviser or employee shall be terminated from employment, transferred, or relieved of duties imposed under this subsection for refusal to abridge or infringe upon the right to freedom of expression conferred by this act.
(e) No publication or other expression of matter by students in the exercise of rights under this act shall be deemed to be an expression of school district policy. No school district, member of the board of education or employee thereof, shall be held responsible in any civil or criminal action for any publication or other expression of matter by students in the exercise of rights under this act. Student editors and other students of a school district, if such student editors and other students have attained the age of majority, shall be held liable in any civil or criminal action for matter expressed in student publications to the extent of any such student editor’s or other student’s responsibility for and involvement in the preparation and publication of such matter.