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.
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A3079A
SPONSOR: Lupardo (MS)
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 freedom of speech and the press by giving final
editorial control to student journalists at public and charter high
schools, while at the same time continuing long standing ethical stand-
ards which will encourage responsible journalism. This bill contains
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.
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 the student
journalists 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". 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 at public and charter high schools as well.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
Formerly a-9801-b of 2018, died in Education Committee.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
This legislation will have no fiscal implications for State or local
This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2019-2020 Regular Sessions
January 28, 2019
Introduced by M. of A. LUPARDO, NOLAN, GLICK, PALMESANO, ROZIC,
SEAWRIGHT, MAGNARELLI, D'URSO, ARROYO, JAFFEE, SIMON, GIGLIO,
LAWRENCE, L. ROSENTHAL, RIVERA, FAHY, GOTTFRIED, MOSLEY, ENGLEBRIGHT,
STIRPE, ABBATE, BLAKE, COLTON, SAYEGH, ABINANTI, SALKA, STECK, HUNTER,
RA, WALSH, DiPIETRO, McDONOUGH, NIOU, TAYLOR, HEVESI, FERNANDEZ,
JEAN-PIERRE, MIKULIN, M. L. MILLER, KOLB -- Multi-Sponsored by -- M.
of A. BUCHWALD, COOK, GALEF -- read once and referred to the Committee
on Education -- recommitted to the Committee on Education in accord-
ance with Assembly Rule 3, sec. 2 -- committee discharged, bill
amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said commit-
AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to enacting the student
journalist free speech act
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. The education law is amended by adding a new article 18 to
2 read as follows:
3 ARTICLE 18
4 STUDENT JOURNALIST FREE SPEECH ACT
5 Section 860. Short title.
6 861. Definitions.
7 862. Student journalist free speech rights.
8 863. Exemptions.
9 864. Liability.
10 § 860. Short title. This article shall be known and may be cited as
11 the "student journalist free speech act".
12 § 861. Definitions. For the purposes of this article the following
13 terms shall have the following meanings:
14 1. "Educational institution" means grades nine through twelve of a
15 public high school in a public school district or charter school.
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 3079--A 2
1 2. "School-sponsored media" means any material that is prepared, writ-
2 ten, published, or broadcast by a student journalist at an educational
3 institution, distributed or generally made available to members of the
4 student body, and prepared under the direction of a student media advi-
5 sor. "School-sponsored media" shall not include media intended for
6 distribution or transmission solely in the classroom in which the media
7 is produced.
8 3. "Student journalist" means a student enrolled in an educational
9 institution who gathers, compiles, writes, edits, photographs, records,
10 or prepares information for dissemination in school-sponsored media.
11 4. "Student media advisor" means an individual employed, appointed, or
12 designated by an educational institution to supervise or provide
13 instruction relating to school-sponsored media.
14 § 862. Student journalist free speech rights. 1. Except as otherwise
15 provided in section eight hundred sixty-three of this article, a student
16 journalist shall have the right to exercise free speech and of the press
17 in school-sponsored media, regardless of whether the media is supported
18 financially by the educational institution or by use of the facilities
19 of an educational institution or produced in conjunction with a class in
20 which the student is enrolled.
21 2. Subject to section eight hundred sixty-three of this article, the
22 appropriate student journalist shall be responsible for determining the
23 news, opinion, and feature content of school-sponsored media.
24 3. Nothing in this section shall preclude a student media advisor from
25 teaching professional standards of English and journalism to student
26 journalists or from grading the performance of a student in accordance
27 with such standards.
28 4. There shall be no prior restraint of material prepared for official
29 publications of an educational institution except for the material
30 described in section eight hundred sixty-three of this article.
31 5. Educational institution administrators shall have the burden of
32 demonstrating justification without undue delay prior to a limitation of
33 student expression under this article.
34 6. No student media advisor or employee shall be dismissed, suspended,
35 disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against
36 solely for acting to protect a pupil engaged in the conduct authorized
37 under this article; and further no student media advisor or employee
38 shall be dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred or
39 otherwise retaliated against solely for an action, undertaken in good
40 faith with this article, which results in the prohibition of the publi-
41 cation of speech pursuant to this article.
42 7. Political expression by students in school-sponsored media shall
43 not be deemed the use of public funds for political purposes.
44 § 863. Exemptions. The following forms of expression shall not be
45 protected by this article:
46 1. Expression that is libelous, slanderous or obscene;
47 2. Expression that constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;
48 3. Expression that violates federal or state law; or
49 4. Expression that incites students to commit an unlawful act, to
50 violate the policies of the educational institution, or to materially
51 and substantially disrupt the orderly operation of such educational
53 § 864. Liability. No expression made by students in the exercise of
54 free speech or freedom of the press protected by this article shall be
55 deemed to be an expression of policy, opinion or position of the educa-
56 tional institution, nor shall any such expression be considered to be an
A. 3079--A 3
1 endorsement in any way by the educational institution and no educational
2 institution, student media advisor, employee, parent, legal guardian or
3 administrator of an educational institution shall be held liable in any
4 civil or criminal action for any expression made or published by
5 students, except in cases of willful or wanton misconduct. Nothing in
6 this section shall be construed to create any private action on behalf
7 of a student other than to seek injunctive relief allowing the publica-
8 tion of the speech in question.
9 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.