DeKalb, IL — A bill to protect student journalists from school administrators or board members is making its way through the Nebraska Senate following cases of many school districts censoring student newspapers.
Legislative Bill 88 would bar administrators from enforcing prior review policies; would make school newspapers or yearbooks public forums; would give students First Amendment protections to freedom of the press; and would protect advisers from being punished by school administrators.
The legislation was introduced by Lincoln Sen. Adam Morfeld.
“Students at an early age must understand the power and the consequences of the First Amendment in an environment supervised by an instructor and with appropriate boundaries,” Morfeld said Tuesday during floor debate on the bill.
There’s been a recent review of prior policies from high school administrators. At North Platte High School in Nebraska, student journalists were told by the principal that their story on race, racism and education in western Nebraska wouldn’t be published.
Opponents of the legislation argue that high school students were not mature enough to responsibly pursue stories for the newspaper.
Sen. Mike Flood, founder of News Channel Nebraska, said Tuesday that as a student he launched an underground newspaper “to call out the misdeeds of Norfolk Catholic High School.”
“Yes, it’s uncomfortable,” he said. “But the student asking questions, even if they get sideways with the administration, even if they get sideways with the community or the local newspaper or whoever, they are learning and they go on to do great things in life.”