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A09801 Summary:

COSPNSRNolan, Glick, Palmesano, Rozic, Seawright, Magnarelli, D'Urso, Arroyo, Jaffee, Simon, Giglio, Lawrence, Rosenthal L
Add Art 18 860 - 864, Ed L
Enacts the student journalist free speech act to protect student speech at educational institutions unless such speech is libelous, an invasion of privacy, or incites students to commit an unlawful act, violate school policies, or to materially and substantially disrupt the orderly operation of the school.
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A09801 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
SPONSOR: Lupardo
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the education law, in relation to enacting the student journalist free speech act   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The purpose of this legislation is to extend and protect freedom of speech and the press in school-sponsored newspapers by allowing for more autonomy of student journalists over the content of their publications. This bill will expand of freedom of speech and the press by giving more editorial control to student journalists, while at the same time contin- uing long standing ethical standards which will encourage responsible journalism at the high school and collegiate level. This bill does retain some School Administrative oversight provisions over articles which maybe considered; libelous, slanderous, obscene, an unwarranted invasion of privacy or violate Federal or State law.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1: The education law is amended by adding a new article 18 which would be referred to as the "student journalist free speech act". Arti- cle 18 contains definitions, exemptions, and liability. Section 2: Establishes the effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: In many states including New York, school administrators have the authority to prohibit content from being published in school newspapers over the objection of student journalists. This legislation would guar- antee freedom of expression and freedom of the press to all student journalists, including both public and private high schools and colleges and universities by giving them final editorial control, rather than school administrators. This will allow for student independence and individual initiative; student ownership of their publications which would foster a greater sense of civic engagement and increase the protections of student journalistic expression. Recent news events have highlighted the need to protect and expand student journalists' rights with more editorial control. In April of 2017, a news story demonstrated the importance of expanding freedom of press rights to students. According to a news article from The Washing- ton Post, a group of 6 high school students from southeastern Kansas were writing an article about their new principal in the school newspa- per when they uncovered that she had no valid educational credentials as far as her collegiate degrees. The story quickly made the national news and the unqualified principal lost her post. The Washington Post states that under Kansas law, the students were protected from "administrative censorship". And because of this they were able to get the story published. Unlike Kansas, New York State Law does not protect students from "administrative censorship". A recent editorial published in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle also highlighted this issue and stressed the importance of giving students more control over their reporting. Ownership by students over their publications will help foster more responsible student journalism and increase civic engagement among them. Freedom of expression and press are fundamental principles in our demo- cratic society and those principals should be expanded to student jour- nalists as well.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: This is new legislation.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: This legislation will have no fiscal implications for State or local government.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
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