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Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier
Transcript of Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier
Questioning the Extent of Freedom of the Press
Do students have Constitutional Rights when it comes to school newspapers?
January 13, 1988
The Spectrum, Hazelwood East High School's newspaper, was written and edited by a class at the school.
In May 1983, Robert E. Reynolds, the school principal, received the pages proofs for the May 13 issue.
He found two of the articles in the issue to be inappropriate, and ordered that the pages on which the articles appeared be withheld from publication.
Cathy Kuhlmeier and two other former Hazelwood East students brought the case to court.
No, They Don't
The First Amendment protects the right to freedom of speech.
The U.S. Supreme Court held that the principal's actions did not violate the students' free speech rights.
Specifically, the Court noted that the paper was not intended as a public forum in which everyone could share views; rather, it was a limited forum for journalism students to write articles pursuant to the requirements of their Journalism II class, and subject to appropriate editing by the school.
The two articles in question that were submitted for publication in the final edition of the paper contained stories on divorce and teenage pregnancy.
-The divorce article featured a story in which a girl blamed her father's actions for her parents' divorce, but the author did not adhere to journalistic standards by informing the father of the story and giving him an opportunity to respond.
-The teenage pregnancy article featured stories in which pregnant students at Hazelwood East shared their experiences.
The principle stated his concerns that simply changing the names of the girls in the teenage pregnancy article may not be sufficient to protect their anonymity and that this topic may not be suitable for the younger students. As a result, he prohibited these articles from being published in the paper.
Because there was no time to edit the paper if it were to go to press before the end of the school year,
entire pages were eliminated.
The student journalists then brought suit to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, alleging that their
First Amendment rights to freedom of speech had been violated.
What Caused This
Supreme Court Decision
The Supreme Court in a 5-3 decision decided in favor of Hazelwood School District.
They reasoned that the newspaper was under control of the school and held the schools name.
This ruling gave school districts the right to suppress the first amendment rights of students with just cause.
How This Effects
By this ruling, the Court created the Hazelwood standard, which states that "educators do not offend the First Amendment by exercising editorial control over the style and content of student speech in school-sponsored expressive activities so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns."
The Court ruled that "a school must be able to set high standards for the student speech that is disseminated under its auspices -- standards that may be higher than those demanded by some newspaper publishers or theatrical producers in the 'real world.'"
In addition, the ruling contains broad language on what type of speech school officials may censor, including any speech that might "associate the school with any position other than neutrality on matters of political controversy."
Since the ruling, courts have applied the Hazelwood standard not only to school-sponsored newspapers, but also to the selection of school band songs, school assignments, and even student campaign speeches.
However, even if Hazelwood applies, it does not end the inquiry. A reviewing court must still review whether the school officials’ actions were "reasonably related to a legitimate pedagogical interest."
A New Jersey appeals court determined that a school principal acted unreasonably when he ordered the removal of two reviews of R-rated movies from a junior high school newspaper. As the court wrote, "when censorship of a school-sponsored publication has no valid educational purpose,
the First Amendment is directly implicated and requires judicial intervention."
Newspaper Article That Started It All...
I <3 boobies
North Side High School of the Fort Wayne Community Schools district of Fort Wayne, Indiana, has banned such bracelets since 2010, after the bracelets caused problems among students, according to Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen’s opinion. School officials decided that "the bracelet’s terminology was ‘offensive to women and inappropriate for school wear’” after a student was apparently harassed.
In a statement to the media, school district officials said they “are pleased with the court's decision” and “have always contended our actions were appropriate.”
A female student and daughter of a breast cancer survivor wore her “I <3 boobies” bracelet from December 2011 until March 2012, when an administrator took it away, the opinion states. That student, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana,
sued her school district and lost.
R we okay?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
There is no evidence that the articles would directly disrupt the learning environment.
Only non-content based articles could be purged from the paper by the administration.
The school had waived responsibility for the paper prior to the controversial articles
Hazelwood School District View
Public schools are responsible for the safety and protection of their students, by banning the articles they are ensuring the students education is not disrupted.
School authorities warrant control over the schools classes and what was taught in journalism.
School newspapers are a limited public forum.
Activities in the school are a representation on the administration. Articles addressing problems in the problems of the district harm the schools reputation
How They Viewed