Thanks to a proposed law that has been re-introduced, student newspapers may become free of prior restraint from school districts and public universities.
In New Jersey, the legislation has the support of Hunterdon Central Regional High School. Teacher Tom McHale, who resigned as adviser of the award winning school newspaper several years ago to amend the board policy of administrative review of the newspaper prior to publication. McHale had been adviser for the newspaper The Lamp for ten years. He is also a Garden State Scholastic Press Association executive board member. He knows of students who self censor due to fear of backlash by school administration.
“Schools should be teaching kids to become responsible citizens,” McHale said in a news release. “For many schools, that’s part of their mission statement.”
The legislation does not protect speech that is libelous or slanderous, or that creates an “unwarranted invasion of privacy.” It also excludes inciting students to create a dangerous situation or any action that violates state law. School districts would be required to create and adopt written policies about freedom of expression for students.