You Be The Judge
Test your knowledge of the Five Freedoms and see how you match up to the courts...and fellow citizens.
Student Press Rights
Katherine Dean was a member of the Arrow, Utica High School's official student newspaper. Dean learned that two citizens were suing the school district, alleging that diesel fumes from the district’s bus garage were hazardous to their health. Dean decided to write an article on the lawsuit. When district officials became aware of her article, they ordered Utica's principal to prohibit the newspaper from publishing it on the ground that it “would be inappropriate for the school newspaper to comment” on pending litigation. Dean claimed that her First Amendment rights had been violated
May schools prevent students from reporting on issues of community concern?
A. YESBased on the Court's Hazelwood ruling from 1988, schools are considered public forums for expression “only if school authorities have 'by policy or by practice' opened those facilities for indiscriminate use by the general public, or by some segment of the public, such as student organizations. If the facilities have instead been reserved for other intended purposes, then no public forum has been created, and school officials may impose reasonable restrictions on the speech of students, teachers, and other members of the school community.”
B. YESStudents to not have the right to publicly criticize school officials and policies. Such power for principals is essential to the preservation of order, decorum, and good government in public schools.
C. NOThe decision to censor Dean’s story was not, per Hazelwood, “reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.” The district’s actions were therefore excessive, resulting in a violation of Dean’s First Amendment rights.