North Dakota Close To Expanding Protections For Student Journalists

The North Dakota House of Representatives approved legislation on Monday that would protect the free-speech rights of student journalists at public schools and colleges — sending the bill to the governor’s desk for a signature.

Steve Listopad, an assistant professor and student media director at Valley City State University, who has pushed for the legislation, said he’s not concerned the governor will veto the bill.

The legislation, which the Senate approved unanimously in March after making several amendments, would prevent schools and colleges from operating under the Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier U.S. Supreme Court precedent, which says institutions can censor school-sponsored media that is not designated as a public forum for student expression.

Instead, student journalists would be granted the same free-speech rights afforded to other students under the Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District Supreme Court ruling. Under that ruling, school administrators cannot punish students for speech that does not cause a substantial disruption to the operation of the school.

Read more on Student Press Law Center