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.