Court cites Hazelwood to defend school’s removal of religious reference

As co-president of the Taconic Hills Middle School student council, an eighth grade student had a warm message to share with her classmates at the school’s annual “Moving Up” ceremony in June 2009.

“As we say our goodbyes and leave middle school behind, I say to you, may the LORD bless you and keep you; make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace."
But a decision issued last month from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York defended the New York school district’s right to remove that very closing line from the unnamed student’s speech.

College trustees lose open-meetings battle (they illegally closed a meeting) but win the war (nobody gets punished)

The good news for public access to government meetings: A New Jersey court says Rutgers University trustees failed to give proper advance notice of a closed-door "executive session," and discussed matters in that session that should've been deliberated in the open.The bad news: Nothing can be done about it.A disgruntled attendee sued after Rutgers' Board of Governors held a four-hour closed session in September 2008 preceding the board's regularly scheduled business meeting.The published notice of the meeting said only that the board would be going into executive session to discuss contract negotiations and other attorney-client matters.

Former Elon student asks N.C. Supreme Court to open police records at private colleges

Nick Ochsner, the former Elon University student journalist who was denied access to records held by the private school’s police department, is taking his case to the state Supreme Court.Ochsner filed a petition Tuesday to have his case against the university and the state attorney general’s office heard by the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Wash. appeals court considers landlord’s libel suit over high school newspaper

The Washington Court of Appeals heard arguments in a libel suit against the student newspaper at Roosevelt High School on Monday, a case raising the issue of a school district’s liability for stories written by student journalists.Landlord Hugh Sisley brought the lawsuit against the Seattle School District after The Roosevelt News published a story in 2009 claiming Sisley had “been accused of racist renting policies.” Sisley and his wife deny those allegations and claim the story defamed them.Superior Court Judge Kimberly Prochnau sided with the school district last year, finding both that the story was not libelous and also that the school could not be held liable for the work of student journalists who are not the school's agents or employees.On appeal, the Sisleys are challenging both of those findings and want the case to go forward to a trial.A three-judge panel of the appeals court heard oral arguments in the case Monday morning, appearing skeptical of arguments from both sides.School district attorney Jeff Freimund faced questions on the school’s liability for newspaper content, while the Sisleys’ attorney, Jeff Grant, was questioned on whether the story itself could be libelous.In legal briefs, the school district argues that it can’t be held liable for the story because the First Amendment prohibited school officials from censoring it.

Amanda Tatro, who fought free speech battle against the University of Minnesota, dead at 31

Amanda Tatro, who less than a week ago lost a high-profile First Amendment case in front of the Minnesota Supreme Court, was found dead in her apartment Tuesday morning, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed.She was 31.A friend of Tatro’s told a City Pages blog that her husband had found her lying on the couch unresponsive when he woke up Tuesday morning.

Minnesota Supreme Court rules against college student in off-campus speech case

Update: The Court has ruled against Amanda Tatro, holding that "a university may regulate student speech on Facebook that violates established professional conduct standards," where the restrictions on speech are "narrowly tailored and directly related to established professional conduct standards." They declined to apply either Hazelwood or TinkerSEE OUR NEWS FLASH FOR DETAILS ON THE DECISION-------------------We're expecting a significant court decision tomorrow morning (Wednesday) on the First Amendment rights of college and university students, particularly when posting about their schools on social media.The case involves Amanda Tatro, a former mortuary sciences student at the University of Minnesota who posted comments on Facebook about "playing" with a cadaver in her anatomy class and wanting to stab someone with an embalming tool.

Missouri newspaper settles lawsuit with school district after six-month battle for public information

UPDATE 6/15: The Springfield News-Leader settled a suit with the Republic School District on Thursday, ending a dispute over information about another lawsuit, settled in November, involving a student and her family who claimed the middle school did not protect the girl from sexual harassment and rape during school hours.According to the News-Leader, documents reveal the district paid $185,000 -- $122,315 to the girl and her family, and the remaining money toward attorney fees.--------A southwest Missouri newspaper and the Republic School District are working to settle a public records lawsuit and reveal the details of a November settlement over student sexual abuse allegations, the newspaper’s attorney said Wednesday.The Springfield News-Leader filed a public records lawsuit June 4 for information regarding the district’s settlement with the student, particularly the amount the district paid and the minutes from any meeting where the settlement was discussed.The News-Leader’s suit argued the district is required to release the information under the Missouri Sunshine Law.“We believe that the applicable Sunshine Law statute requires disclosures of the information for obvious reasons – the taxpayers have a right to know how the school is conducting its business,” attorney Bryan Wade told The News-Leader.Wade confirmed the district had responded to the suit, and the two entities are negotiating an agreement.

Neb. students will not appeal loss in “Julius RIP” T-shirt case

Plaintiffs in a Nebraska suit that called into question the right of students to wear an “RIP” T-shirt have decided not to appeal their case.District Judge Laurie Smith Camp wrote in a directed verdict last month that no “reasonable jury” could rule against the Millard County School District in a First Amendment lawsuit brought by three former students.A trial jury had ruled in early April that the school district acted reasonably when it suspended Dan and Nick Kuhr in 2008 for wearing T-shirts which read “Julius RIP.”The T-shirts were in remembrance of Julius Robinson, who was shot in front of an apartment complex in what was believed to be an act of gang violence.The school district suspended the Kuhrs, arguing that the T-shirts — as well as an accompanying bracelet — had the potential to cause a substantial disruption in school.Though the jury ruled against Dan and Nick Kuhr, it did not find in favor of either party for a third plaintiff, Cassie Kuhr.