A federal district court issued a preliminaryinjunction July 26 that has reinstated a student newspaper adviser who wasremoved for what students claim was retaliation for stories theyprinted.
Three editors at the Ocean County College student newspaper, theViking News, filed a lawsuit in May against college President Jon Larson andseveral other administrators after the school removed longtime newspaper adviserKaren Bosley. The lawsuit alleges that Bosley’s removal violated thestudents’ First Amendment rights and was retaliation for several storiespublished in the newspaper critical of the school’s administration. Thepreliminary injunction has allowed Bosley to continue to advise the Viking Newswhile the lawsuit is underway. Bosley has filed a similar separatelawsuit.
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SPLC View: While just a preliminary ruling, this is a animportant decision for student media advisers everywhere, recognizing as it doesthat student journalists’ First Amendment rights are violated when a schoolretaliates against an adviser for material published by students. This courtmakes clear that school officials cannot abuse their employer status to punishemployees who allow their students to lawfully exercise their free speech andpress rights. This case is also an excellent reminder of the importance ofdocumenting evidence of a school’s content-based motivations.