Should school newspapers be treated like real newspapers? Potential Indiana law says yes.

By Andrew Pillow

Should high school journalists get some of the same legal protection as professional journalists? If Representative Edward Clere gets his way, the answer will be yes.

Clere is the author of House Bill 1130. A bill that would stop schools from disciplining students for content published in school sponsored media. Specifically, the bill holds that:

“...a public school, school corporation, or state educational institution may not suppress school sponsored media unless the content is libelous or slanderous or gratuitously profane.”

The bill passed through the Senate Education Committee but with an added amendment the lets the State Board of Education decide disputes. The bill will now head to the Senate.

This case is not without precedent. The supreme court decided on a similar such issue in 1988 in the Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier case. According to supreme.justia.com the holding from that decision was:

(a) First Amendment rights of students in the public schools are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings, and must be applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment. A school need not tolerate student speech that is inconsistent with its basic educational mission, even though the government could not censor similar speech outside the school.
(b) The school newspaper here cannot be characterized as a forum for public expression. School facilities may be deemed to be public forums

The Bill does appear to have Bi-Partisan support as it is backed by multiple republicans and democrats. The next step for the bill is to the pass the Indiana State Senate.

Read more about the bill here.

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Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.