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Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier
Transcript of Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier
students who wrote for the school newspaper submitted the final paper to their editor, Mr. Emerson, before publishing. According to
protocol, Emerson sent the paper to the school's principal, Mr. Reynolds, who was concerned
about a couple articles in the paper
Two topics especially concerned Reynolds. These were topics of teen pregnancy and divorce. In the article about teen pregnancy, pregnant teens from the high school were anonymously interviewed. In the article about divorce, students with divorced parents were interviewed and made negative comments about a parent or parents. Reynolds said he was concerned for the students' privacy of them and their families. The student's felt that their principal's choice of censorship violated their First Amendment rights. They filed a lawsuit against the school and took their case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The judge ruled in the school's favor, stating that if the school has a reasonable basis for their actions, they can restrict published content of school-related extra curricular activities due to educational purposes.
The students didn't like this ruling, so they appealed
the case. The students appealed their case to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. This court reversed the ruling of the lower court, stating that the school newspaper was "public forum" and a paper for student discussion. They also stated that the school could only place restrictions on the paper if it were to interfere with school work or violate other students' rights. The school appealed the ruling and the Supreme Court decided to hear their case. The Supreme Court would decide whether the school newspaper is considered a "public forum" and if the school should be required to support "particular student speech". The court ruled against the students in a 5-3 decision. Justice White concluded by stating that the First Amendment does not prevent the school from showing authority over school-sponsored publications. They also stated that if the newspaper was considered "public forum", then the school would not have editorial control over the paper. In addition, they decided that the school is not required to support student speech such as this if it infringed on the school's educational mission. 1. Why did the newspaper adviser give the
paper to Principal Reynolds for review? Was this standard procedure?
Yes, this was standard procedure for the principal to review the paper before it was published.
2. What concerns did Principal Reynolds have regarding the two articles? Were these legitimate concerns? Do you think the principal had any options other than deleting entire pages from the student paper?
He was concerned for the privacy of the students interviewed and their families. The more respectable action would've been to confront the students about the article and compromised changes.
3. What rights did the students believe had
been violated? What is the relevant wording of
the First Amendment?
Their "freedom of press"
4. Were there steps the students could have taken other than filing a lawsuit?
Yes, the students could've worked out a compromise with the principal/school before jumping to such drastic measures.
5. Should a principal be able to censor student newspapers? If so, under what conditions?
Yes, if the paper is an inappropriate for the school's intended atmosphere or if it violates the rights of others.
6. Should a principal or other school authority be able to silence other forms of student speech? If so, under what conditions? How does speech by an individual student differ from speech by the school newspaper?
Yes, to an extent. If other forms of student speech is offending or disrupting school learning it should be restricted. Individual speech is not published like in a school newspaper.
1988 Reynolds wanted the students to change the articles, but he was worried they would not cut the due date of the paper, so after consulting other staff members, he decided to omit two pages that included the controversial articles. The students who worked very hard on these articles felt that the issue could've been solved if their principal had just confronted them