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A04402 Summary:

COSPNSRNolan, Glick, Palmesano, Rozic, Seawright, Magnarelli, Simon, Rosenthal L, Gottfried, Englebright, Rivera J, Stirpe, Fahy, Abbate, Colton, Abinanti, Hunter, Niou, Giglio JM, Salka, Steck, Taylor, Hevesi, Fernandez, Jean-Pierre, Mikulin, Miller M, Walsh, Ra, DiPietro, McDonough, Otis, McDonald, Gonzalez-Rojas, Thiele, Forrest, O'Donnell, Gallahan, Gandolfo, Angelino, Hawley, Sillitti, Septimo, Mamdani, Gallagher
MLTSPNSRCook, DeStefano, Galef
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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A04402 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 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 oversight protections.   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 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. The student journalist free speech movement has been building in momen- tum in recent years, with 14 states passing free speech protections for student journalists. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier that federal law gives schools broad powers to censor student journalists if they have pedagogical concerns. However, concerns schools could use were not specifically defined, allowing schools to censor students for legitimate journalistic inquiries and publications. In March of 2019, CNN published a piece by one such student journalist whose Texas school censored her journalism. The school principal deemed her coverage as not "positive or uplifting," such as an article about how an anti-LGBT backlash to school programming led to the removal of a book from the school reading curriculum. Subse- quent news stories have been written since then similarly highlighting the need for state-level student journalist free speech protections, particularly in the wake of how recent national events, have affected students, their schools, and their communities. 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-3079 of 2020, died in the Education Committee.   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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A04402 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                    February 4, 2021
        Introduced  by  M.  of  A.  LUPARDO,  NOLAN,  GLICK,  PALMESANO,  ROZIC,
          MIKULIN,  M. MILLER, WALSH, RA, DiPIETRO, McDONOUGH -- Multi-Sponsored
          by -- M. of A. COOK, GALEF -- read once and referred to the  Committee
          on Education
        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 a public high school.
    15    2. "School-sponsored media" means any material that is prepared, writ-
    16  ten, published, or broadcast by a student journalist at  an  educational
    17  institution,  distributed  or generally made available to members of the
    18  student body, and prepared under the direction of a student media  advi-
    19  sor.  "School-sponsored  media"  shall  not  include  media intended for
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        A. 4402                             2
     1  distribution or transmission solely in the classroom in which the  media
     2  is produced.
     3    3.  "Student  journalist"  means  a student enrolled in an educational
     4  institution who gathers, compiles, writes, edits, photographs,  records,
     5  or prepares information for dissemination in school-sponsored media.
     6    4. "Student media advisor" means an individual employed, appointed, or
     7  designated  by  an  educational  institution  to  supervise  or  provide
     8  instruction relating to school-sponsored media.
     9    § 862. Student journalist free speech rights.  1. Except as  otherwise
    10  provided in section eight hundred sixty-three of this article, a student
    11  journalist shall have the right to exercise free speech and of the press
    12  in  school-sponsored media, regardless of whether the media is supported
    13  financially by the educational institution or by use of  the  facilities
    14  of an educational institution or produced in conjunction with a class in
    15  which the student is enrolled.
    16    2.  Subject  to section eight hundred sixty-three of this article, the
    17  appropriate student journalist shall be responsible for determining  the
    18  news, opinion, and feature content of school-sponsored media.
    19    3. Nothing in this section shall preclude a student media advisor from
    20  teaching  professional  standards  of  English and journalism to student
    21  journalists or from grading the performance of a student  in  accordance
    22  with such standards.
    23    4. There shall be no prior restraint of material prepared for official
    24  publications  of  an  educational  institution  except  for the material
    25  described in section eight hundred sixty-three of this article.
    26    5. Educational institution administrators shall  have  the  burden  of
    27  demonstrating justification without undue delay prior to a limitation of
    28  student expression under this article.
    29    6. No student media advisor or employee shall be dismissed, suspended,
    30  disciplined,  reassigned,  transferred,  or otherwise retaliated against
    31  solely for acting to protect a pupil engaged in the  conduct  authorized
    32  under  this  article;  and  further no student media advisor or employee
    33  shall be dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned,  transferred  or
    34  otherwise  retaliated  against  solely for an action, undertaken in good
    35  faith with this article, which results in the prohibition of the  publi-
    36  cation of speech pursuant to this article.
    37    7.  Political  expression  by students in school-sponsored media shall
    38  not be deemed the use of public funds for political purposes.
    39    § 863. Exemptions. Nothing in this article  shall  impose  a  duty  on
    40  educational  institution administrators to review school-sponsored media
    41  prior to publication. To the  extent  that  an  educational  institution
    42  administrator  chooses to engage in  pre-publication review, the follow-
    43  ing forms of expression shall not be protected by this article:
    44    1. Expression that is libelous, slanderous or obscene;
    45    2. Expression that constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;
    46    3. Expression that violates federal or state law; or
    47    4. Expression that incites students to commit an  unlawful  act  where
    48  such    unlawful  act  would  be  both  imminent and likely to occur, to
    49  violate the policies of the educational institution,  or  to  materially
    50  and  substantially  disrupt  the  orderly  operation of such educational
    51  institution.
    52    § 864. Liability. No expression made by students in  the  exercise  of
    53  free  speech  or freedom of the press protected by this article shall be
    54  deemed to be an expression of policy, opinion or position of the  educa-
    55  tional institution, nor shall any such expression be considered to be an
    56  endorsement in any way by the educational institution and no educational

        A. 4402                             3
     1  institution,  student media advisor, employee, parent, legal guardian or
     2  administrator of an educational institution shall be held liable in  any
     3  civil  or  criminal  action  for  any  expression  made  or published by
     4  students,  except  in  cases of willful or wanton misconduct. Nothing in
     5  this section shall be construed to create any private action  on  behalf
     6  of  a student other than to seek injunctive relief allowing the publica-
     7  tion of the speech in question.
     8    § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
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