Stink of censorship threatens to knock out story about dirty school bathrooms

NEW YORK -- The staff of the Francis Lewis High School student newspaper thought the bathrooms at their school stunk.

Students were upset by restrictive policies on student bathroom use, such as the "10-minute rule," which called for bathrooms to be locked the first and last 10 minutes of class and a ban on more than two bathrooms -- one for each sex -- being open at the same time.

Administrators reprimand adviser for column

MICHIGAN -- A high school newspaper adviser was reprimanded after a student's column criticizing the observance of Black History Month sparked debate among local students and parents.

The trouble started in March after an article critical of Black History Month was published in the February edition of Plymouth Salem High School's P-CEP Perspective. The article, written by senior Chris MacKinder, questioned the need to celebrate Black History Month, claiming that by celebrating the month "race once again becomes a popular topic of discussion." He added that celebrating Black History Month was unfair because other groups and races were not celebrated.

MacKinder's column caused an uproar, mainly in the African-American community, which requested a meeting with school administrators and demanded that MacKinder be expelled and newspaper adviser Mary Lou Nagy be fired.

Instead, administrators reprimanded Nagy by relieving her of her three classes and placing her in an administrative position for eight days.

SPLC launches First Amendment Fund

This summer, the Student Press Law Center will launch the First Amendment Fund to protect the rights of student journalists.

"Anyone who works with students recognizes that they frequently have to fight for their right to cover important issues," says Mary Arnold Hemlinger, youth journalism and diversity consultant for the Newspaper Association of American Foundation and chair of the SPLC's board of directors.

District pays $62,000 in damages after losing suit filed by student suspended for Web site

WASHINGTON -- School administrators received a lesson in First Amendment rights in February after a judge approved a settlement granting more than $60,000 to a student who was suspended for posting a Web site that poked fun at his assistant principal.

Karl Beidler was awarded $10,000 in damages and $52,000 in attorney's fees following negotiations between the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, which represented Beidler, and the North Thurston County School District.

The settlement came after a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled in July that Beidler's First Amendment rights were violated when he was suspended.

"Today the First Amendment protects students' speech to the same extent as in 1979 or 1969, when the U.S.

Students secure return of newspaper

OHIO -- It all happened rather quickly. One day the student newspaper was distributed, the next day it was suspended, and six eventful days later, it was returned to the students.

While some might laud the return of the Walnut Hills High School student paper as a victory for the student press, staff members are not so ready to claim success.

Philip Ewing, co-editor of The Chatterbox, called it a "limited victory." Although the principal gave the newspaper back to the students, he also implemented a new set of rules that would give him "a way to censor us," Ewing said.

The struggle started in March when Walnut Hills principal Marvin O. Koenig suspended the student newspaper because of a column and a cartoon featured on the humor page in the March 15 issue that poked fun at the assistant principal.

The column, written by humor page editor Sean Krebs, criticized school administrators for holding Saturday school, a form of detention for skipping class that requires students to report to school on Saturdays.

Decision frees college press from censorship

KENTUCKY -- After seven years, the members of the Kentucky State University class of 1994 will finally receive their yearbooks.

KSU officials agreed to distribute the books in February as part of a settlement with two students who sued the university for violating their First Amendment rights by confiscating the 1994 edition of the Thorobred.

Under the terms of the settlement, Kentucky State will attempt to reach 90 percent of the students eligible to receive the yearbook, which was funded with student activity fees.