In September, the Caldwell-West Caldwell School Board in Newark, N.J., agreed to allow the publication of a previously censored article in The Caldron, James Caldwell High School's student newspaper. But the victory may prove temporary, as board members are considering stricter policies that could allow for greater censorship in the future.
California is one of six states with a statute protecting student free expression rights. The laws are often referred to as anti- Hazelwood statutes because many were a specific response to the Supreme Court's 1988 decision limiting students' rights under the First Amendment.
In November, photos of several University of Miami students who indicated they went swimming in a campus lake ' an act forbidden by the university ' appeared on a fellow student's Facebook profile. Patricia Mazzei, Hurricane editor in chief, did not hesitate to run them, accompanied by the headline, "Caught on Facebook."
In what some student free-expression advocates say is an alarming trend, students at both public and private schools are being punished for Internet postings made off school grounds on Web sites not affiliated with the schools.
Bone chilling. That is how Charles Davis from the Missouri School of Journalism described the Hosty v. Carter decision out of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group that advocates students' free expression rights, filed a federal lawsuit Oct. 31 against Troy University for a speech code FIRE's President David French called "incompatible with a free society."
But when school officials attempt to censor by cutting funds, firing editors or some other indirect means, student journalists can have a more difficult time demonstrating they have a First Amendment case.
A prominent journalism academic said the court did not address the issue the student newspaper had wanted answered: whether Michigan public university governing boards are constitutionally exempt from the state's open meetings act.
Prosecutors have been tough on student newspaper thieves this school year, pressing charges against four people accused of stealing newspapers in two unrelated cases -- all in one month.