Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nia Gill and Senator Shirley Turner, which would protect the rights of student journalists at public schools and institutions, cleared the Senate Education Committee today.
“This bill reaffirms that students should not have to shed their constitutional right to freedom of speech or freedom of expression when they enter a school building,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “Our students should always have their right to free speech, whether it be in school, in public or at home.”
Under the bill, S-108, students at public schools and institutions would have the right to exercise freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Each school district would be required to adopt a written policy concerning student freedom of expression. The policy would include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of student expression.
“Student journalists are real journalists, and should be treated in the same manner we would regard a writer from any major news source,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “Our students should have discretion over the subject matter they choose to cover, regardless of if it is challenging or controversial. Students should not have their constitutional rights checked at the schoolhouse door. As long as they are not placing anyone in danger or publishing hurtful information, they should be free to express their views and cover the news they deem important.”
School district employees could not be retaliated against for protecting the student exercising their freedom of expression.
The bill, S-108, cleared committee by a vote of 5-0.