Lange v. Diercks

Journalism teacher Ben Lange refused to engage in censorship that he saw unlawful based on the Iowa Student Free Expression Law. His employer, the Allamakee Community School District, disciplined Lange for not taking such actions. Principal Dan Diercks felt that content published in issues of the student newspaper was disruptive to the school environment and inappropriate, including content in an April Fools edition. The Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier case has been used by the principal and school officials to justify the need for censorship. However, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District states that student free expression is allowed so long as the disruption does not cause severe disruption to the day-to-day activities of the school. The District Court ruled in favor of Diercks and the school district, despite the ruling of Tinker and the state’s free expression law.

The SPLC disagreed with the district court’s ruling and filed an amicus brief calling for a more accurate application of the Iowa Student Free Expression Law and Tinker. The SPLC requested that the District Court’s judgment be reversed since there is no concrete evidence that severe disruption occurred because of the content of the publications in question, which the respondents have claimed existed.