Appeals court's "ethnic studies" ruling fortifies students' rights to receive information

A federal appeals court allowed student plaintiffs to go forward with due process and First Amendment challenges to the state of Arizona's decision to eliminate "ethnic studies" courses from the K-12 curriculum. The court's 3-0 decision is remarkable for recognizing that students have a constitutionally protected right to receive information even in the classroom setting, a principle that may strengthen the hand of future student plaintiffs.

Appeals court throws out Iowa student’s “name-calling” conviction

The justice system increasingly is being asked to intercede in unpleasant social interactions involving young people that, once upon a time, used to get settled through a stern lecture and a parental conference.In Pennsylvania, police charged a 15-year-old with the crime of "disorderly conduct" for secretly recording students bullying him during school, a case that prosecutors recently withdrew after a public outcry.And in Iowa, an Allamakee County high school student was hauled into juvenile court and adjudicated "delinquent," the equivalent to a conviction in adult criminal court, for insulting remarks ("you fat, skanky bitch") that she yelled at a rival student while exiting the school bus.In a victory for judicial restraint, the Iowa student's case was overturned April 16 by the Iowa Court of Appeals, which reached the common-sense decision that not every upsetting remark can be criminalized as "harassment."In its ruling, the Court of Appeals found that Iowa's criminal harassment statute -- which outlaws speech that is intended, without legitimate purpose, to "threaten, intimidate or alarm" -- cannot be violated by mere insults.

A constitutional right to leggings and long hair? When are school dress codes unfashionable?

Momentous advances in free-speech law don't always involve historic acts of journalistic courage. Sometimes they start with something as tiny as a kid who doesn't want a haircut.That's what led a Chicago-based federal appeals court to conclude that it can be unlawful gender discrimination to make male high-school athletes, but not female ones, wear their hair short.In a 2-1 ruling issued in February, the federal Seventh Circuit decided that gender-based dress and grooming codes can violate both the federal Title IX gender discrimination statute as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.In sending the case back for trial, the appeals court in Hayden v.

California high school journalists honored after invoking state shield law

A trio of student journalists who fought to protect confidential sources while investigating events surrounding a peer’s suicide earned recognition this month from the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The team from Saratoga High School’s The Saratoga Falcon — Samuel Liu, Sabrina Chen and Cristina Curcelli — were honored in the high school category of the James Madison Freedom of Information Awards.

Student Voice launches “Digital Backpack” to help students learn about their rights

Today, Student Voice launched its "Digital Backpack," a set of guides for students, educators and community members who want to have a voice "in the decisions that impact their lives." If you subscribe to SPLC's magazine, the Report, you might recognize Student Voice from Daniel Moore's story in our most recent issue. Student Voice evolved out of Twitter chats between students all over the world, and now they're working to elevate students' voices everywhere.

The "Digital Backpack" is a great starting point for students who want to participate in conversations about how education impacts them, and includes a guide to student rights written by SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte.

Explore the entire guide here.

While you were taking a holiday, so did the Bill of Rights and government transparency

Over the weekend, quite a few stories involving student rights caught our eye. In case you missed them over the long holiday, here's everything you need to know:

  • In New York, a high school senior was suspended after he started a hashtag for students to discuss the school district's budget, which failed to get voter approval last week.