State Senate panel approves student newspaper freedoms

PHOENIX  A Senate panel voted Thursday to give student newspapers new freedom from censorship by school administrators.

SB 1384 specifically declares that student editors — and not administrators — “are responsible for determining the content of school-sponsored media.” More to the point, the legislation would prevent administrators from censoring publications and preventing publication except under four narrow circumstances.

The unanimous approval by the Education Committee came after a parade of student editors and advisers told lawmakers of situations where administrators had stepped in to block stories or cartoons.

Peggy Gregory of Greenway High school who said she has taught journalism and advised students papers for 36 years, told lawmakers that student press freedom was the law of the land following a 1969 U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring that it was protected by the First Amendment. But nearly 20 years later the same court partly reversed itself, declaring that student newspapers do not have the same constitutional rights as other publications.

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