Trial date set in Wooster (Ohio) High School censorship case

A federal district court judge in Ohio has set a Nov. 17 trial datein the case of Wooster High School’s student newspaper against the Woosterschool district.

Students working on The Wooster Blade filed alawsuit earlier this year after school officials confiscated the Dec. 20 issueof the newspaper. The issue contained information about a student drinkingincident that school officials claimed was false and potentiallydefamatory.

Judge James Gwin of the Northern District of Ohio met withattorneys on both sides of the case May 11. Attorneys for both sides will nowbegin gathering evidence in anticipation of the November trial date, though itis still possible that the case will be settled before then.

In February,Gwin refused the students’ request for a preliminary injunction, but did rulethat the Blade qualified as a limited public forum, a legal category thatprovides the students working for the paper with significant legalprotections.

SPLC View: This case continues to be one to watch closely.Given the district court judge’s earlier ruling, which was very helpful to highschool student media on the public forum issue, we remain hopeful that theparties can now reach an acceptable compromise without the need for a fulltrial. In any event, the Wooster students and their attorney have indicatedtheir willingness to follow the case through to a successful end.