Supporter wants federal press protections

MASSACHUSETTS — Out of frustration with the slow progress supportershave made in getting states to pass anti-Hazelwood legislation,one adviser is working to pass a bill at the national level.

Harry Proudfoot, a newspaper adviser at Westport High School, said hebelieves passing one bill in Congress will be easier than passing 44 billsin the states. Six states — Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansasand Massachusetts — have already passed legislation protecting studentexpression in school publications.

“My logic is that it should be easier to convince a majority of 535people that this is a good idea than it is to convince roughly 50 timesthat number if we go state by state,” Proudfoot said. “I also see thisas a problem the federal government — the Supreme Court — created.”

In 1988, the Supreme Court ruled in Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier thathigh school administrators could censor a school-sponsored publicationas long as the censorship is related to legitimate educational concerns.

Proudfoot believes a national campaign to pass anti-Hazelwood lawscould re-energize efforts in the states. In the 12 years since the Hazelwood decisionwas issued, only five states have passed bills counteracting it. California’sbill predates the 1988 ruling.

“We are putting the freedom of the press at risk in this country byraising a generation of journalists who believe the government has theright to censor publications,” Proudfoot said.