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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 26, 2019 11:54 AM
From: Senator Andrew E. Dinniman
To: All Senate members
Subject: Protecting the Rights of Student Journalists
In the near future I will introduce legislation that aims to protect the rights of student journalists. This legislation was drafted with direct input from a group of Chester County high school student journalists who met with me and members of my staff earlier this year.

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the. US Supreme Court Case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, a landmark ruling defending the free press and free speech rights of students. The Supreme Court established that "It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." Currently, section 12.9 of Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code guarantees speech protections for student journalists, allowing principals and school administrators to prior review.

My legislation will allow districts to implement polices to place administrative review in the hands of student editors, helping to maintain that journalistic integrity is upheld by the student journalists. In addition to protecting the rights of student journalists, my legislation would also provide job protections for journalism teachers or advisors.

Please consider co-sponsoring this legislation to encourage student journalists to remain an active and productive voice in their school communities and support our students’ engagement in the legislative process.

Introduced as SB806