Students get a lesson in ‘press freedom’

Free speech ends at the school doors, the Supreme Court has ruled several times.

But it’s being tested in Faribault today, the Faribault Daily News reports, where the school superintendent has closed down the school newspaper after its journalist-students refused to let him preview a story on the investigation of middle school teacher Shelly Prieve, who has reportedly been under investigation for inappropriate communication with students.

Says the Daily News:


Though the Prieve article is at the center of the controversy, (School Superintendent Bob) Stepaniak said it has evolved into something greater than the words in that story. Instead, he said, it is about the fundamental question of whether a district’s administration has the right to review articles prior to publication.

Stepaniak insists he does. Zwaggerman and Hildebrandt insist he doesn’t. Each side is backed by legal representation.

Stepaniak points to the powers under a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Hazelwood School District vs. Kuhlmeier, that upheld the right of public high school administrators in a suburban St. Louis, Mo., school district to censor articles about teen pregnancy and the effects of divorce on children from a school-sponsored student newspaper.

The school newspaper’s, known as The Echo, faculty advisor Kelly Zwaggerman says she’s prepared to be removed from that role.