The Seattle Times' Opinion on "Public Forum" Student Papers

"But we say again it is a risky thing to give legal control of a high-school newspaper to students."

Seattle Times Editorial

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Burning Question

"Is the material being regularly published in The Squall/Rostrum appropriate for students?"

Parents want to have a say in what their children are exposed to at school.

Journalism teachers want to fight for free speech and freedom of the press.

Administrators want to stay balanced between "cool" and "firm"--to protect the rights of the outspoken and also those of the general student population.

But the U.S. Supreme Court has already explicitly set the standard for student press. And we must all set our prejudices aside and abide by the law. Here is what they say:

"A public high school newspaper, written and edited by students in a journalism class, is not a forum for public expression, and school officials are accordingly entitled to regulate the contents of such a newspaper in any reasonable manner..." and "the fact that students are permitted to exercise some authority over the contents of the newspaper, consistent with the curriculum guide's objective of teaching the journalism students leadership responsibilities as editors, does not imply a decision to relinquish school control over the newspaper."

The court then specifically found it to be reasonable for the principal to remove an article with "frank" talk regarding teenage sexual activity from the school newspaper given that it's a school-sponsored publication and is distributed to students as young as 14 years old. Hazelwood, 484 US at 274-75. Hazelwood also says that "a school must also retain the authority to refuse to sponsor student speech that might reasonably be perceived to advocate drug or alcohol use ...."

Please read the past issues and decide for yourself. (The Squall) If you feel that the paper is advocating/ advertising drugs or alcohol or being too "frank" regarding teenage sexual activity, or telling the students where they can go to find these things* please feel free to comment here or use the links to email the board of education and tell them how you feel.

*Any of these would be contrary to the standards of either federal law or the school bylaws.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re: Novermber 25, 2008 Rostrum "Dirty Dealing" article by Mr. Kevin Yarows

This article blatantly promotes illegal drug use and sales! This is clearly not appropriate for the students. It advocates illegal drug use and distribution, and more than that, it is on SCHOOL GROUNDS! WOW. Where was any mature adult with any ability to edit when this was printed? What else is happening at DHS that is illegal and against school bylaws and the constitution that is being allowed? How is this even allowed by advisors and the principal? Didn't anyone read what the student submitted before it was published, and if not, why not? I see a lawsuit waiting to happen.

I have heard there is a police presence at the school, but apparently it is not working. I don't feel that my kids would be safe going to this kind of high school, and if this is the kind of behavior that teachers, advisors and principals turn a blind eye to, what else is going on that parents might not be aware of? Where are the responsible adults? Why aren't the school officials doing their jobs!?! Aren't our kids their number 1 priority?