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: A9801B
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 private middle
schools, high schools, and charter schools, while at the same time
continuing long standing ethical standards which will encourage respon-
sible 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.
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 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
This act shall take effect immediately.