When the principal at Pebblebrook High School cancelled the school's journalism class in May, it seemed likely that Brookspeak, the student newspaper produced by the class, would die with it.
In July 2003, Amanda Farahany, an attorney representing an alleged rape victim, filed the lawsuit. She was initially successful in her quest for the records when a superior court judge in February 2004 ruled that the department and its records were public.
High school yearbook pages composed of senior superlatives and senior messages might be popular among students but they can be more trouble than they are worth for publication staffs.\n
\nLisa Rodgers, the editor of the 2005 yearbook at Michigan's Cody High School, discovered this the hard way after a coded message on a senior ''confessions'' page led to the censorship of the book and the dismissal of the publication's adviser in June.\n
\nThe yearbook drew the attention of Principal Ronnie Phillips and other staff members because of a picture of a gay couple at homecoming and a coded message on a senior ''confessions'' page that staff members perceived as an accusation that certain teachers had engaged in sexual behavior with students.
State Sen. Jarrett T. Barrios (D-Cambridge) and Rep. Alice K. Wolf (D-Cambridge) introduced similar measures in the state Senate and House that would open records produced by special state police officers employed by educational institutions and hospitals.
The book, featuring the question in Spanish (''Quienes somos en verdad?'') on the front cover and in English on the back cover -- a reflection of the school's nearly 90 percent Hispanic majority -- reached the school's students on May 5 with little consequence.
In April, Salem agreed to pay a $200,000 fine to the U.S. Department of Education for Clery Act violations that occurred from 1997 to 1999. These violations included the failure to report five forcible sex offenses and three robberies, and the failure to issue timely reports about threats on campus.
Former staff members of the Tattler, Ithaca High School's student newspaper, filed a lawsuit against the Ithaca City School District in June claiming their First Amendment rights had been violated and guidelines restricting the paper are unconstitutional.
These obstacles can delay or prevent the public from obtaining information that could protect students from violent crime, potential health hazards or simply learning how state money is being used.
Student journalists, in the face of censorship, typically choose one or a combination of these paths, though a road less traveled exists: moving the paper underground.
It's a question both sides think they know the answer to and one both sides hope the state's supreme court will take up soon: Are the names of individual donors to public university foundations public under the state open records law?