Section (6000) Instruction
Policy Name REGULATION - Student Publications
Policy Number 6145.3 REG
Date Approved 10/10/1989
Date Revised 10/27/2005
Date Revised  
Date Revised  
Date Revised  

I. Responsibilities of Student Journalists

Students who work on official student publications will:

A. rewrite material, as required by the faculty advisers, to improve sentence structure, grammar, spelling and punctuation;
B. check and verify all facts and verify the accuracy of all quotations;
C. in the case of editorials or letters to the editor concerning controversial issues, provide space for rebuttal comments and opinions;
D. determine, with the approval of the advisor, the content of the student publication.

II. Prohibited Material

A. Students cannot publish or distribute material which is obscene. Material shall be considered obscene when:
1. the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that the publication, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interest in sex; or
2. the publication depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, lewd and lascivious behavior; or
3. the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

B. Students cannot publish or distribute material which is libelous, defined as a false and unprivileged statement about a public official or a public figure which injures the individual's reputation in the school community.
1. A public official is a person who holds an elected or appointed public office.
2. A public figure is a person who either seeks the public's attention or is well known because of his/her achievements
3. School employees are to be considered public officials or public figures in articles concerning the performance of their school-related activities.

C. Students cannot publish or distribute material which will cause appreciable disruption of school activities.

1. Such disruption would include, for example, student rioting; unlawful seizures of property; destruction of property; widespread shouting or substantial shouting or boisterous conduct; breaking of school rules or student participation in a school boycott, sit-in, stand-in, walkout or other related form of activity. Material that stimulates constructive and lively discussion or debate does not constitute the type of disruption prohibited.
2. In determining whether a student publication is disruptive, consideration must be given to the context of the distribution as well as the content of the material. In this regard, consideration should be given to past experience in the school with similar material, proper supervision of students in the school, current events influencing student attitudes and behaviors, and whether or not there have been any instances of actual or threatened disruption prior to or contemporaneously with the dissemination of the student publication in question.
3. School officials must act to protect the safety of advocates of all viewpoints.
4. "School activity" means educational activity of students sponsored by the school and includes, by way of example and not by way of limitation, classroom work, library activities, physical education classes, individual research time, official assemblies and other similar gatherings, school athletic contests, band and choral concerts, school plays and scheduled in-school lunch periods.

III. School Officials shall:
A. regulate the publication or distribution of birth control information in student publications;
B. censor the use of vulgar or so called "our-letter" words in student publications;
C. allow appropriate criticism of school policies or practices;
D. ban speech which advocates illegal conduct;
E. reserve the right to ban the publication or distribution of material written by non-students;
F. not prohibit the school newspaper from accepting advertising.

School officials may ban the distribution of non-school sponsored publications on school grounds.

IV. School officials shall regulate the time, place and manner of distribution.
A. ("Distribution" means the dissemination of a publication to students at a time and place or normal school activity, or immediately prior or subsequent thereto, by means of handing out free copies, selling or offering copies for sale, accepting donations for copies of the publication, or displaying the student publication in areas of the school which are generally frequented by students.)
B. Officials may prohibit the distribution of anonymous literature or require that literature bear the name of the sponsoring organization or author;
C. Officials may ban the distribution of literature because it contains advertising; and
D. Officials may ban the sale of literature provided such sale conflicts with school policy.

V. Advisor
A teacher who advises a student publication will exercise editorial control over the student publication and otherwise conform to all administrative regulations regarding student publication.

The advisor's function is to teach the skills of journalism and serve as a resource person. The advisor reserves the right to censor in cases of libel and obscenity.

The advisor must ensure that the publication is free of grammatical and mechanical errors to the greatest extent possible.

VI. Prior Restraint
Student publication, whether non-school-sponsored or official, may be reviewed by school officials prior to distribution.

VII. Circulation
These guidelines will be included in the handbook on student rights and responsibilities and circulated to all appropriate students and personnel.

VIII. Code of Ethics of Coverage
A. Student publications will strive to accurately and fairly report news which is important, interesting and relevant to the students of Plainville High School.
1. The coverage given to school clubs, activities, departments and sports will depend on the news value of the material to the majority of readers.
2. Publications will report local, state and national news when it is of concern to Plainville High School students.

B. Publications will clearly identify sources of news, except when it is necessary to uphold the journalist's privilege of protecting his/her sources
C. Publications will present both sides of an issue impartially in its news columns but will be free to favor one side or the other in editorials or opinion.
D. Publications will avoid sensational treatment of news but will never avoid a topic simply because it is controversial.
E. Realizing that all news is not good, publications will report weaknesses as well as strengths that affect the students of Plainville High School.
F. Publications will strive for the highest standards of accuracy, completeness and careful research in their presentation of material. However, there are deadlines to meet. If newspapers of the past had waited until the final truth was ascertained, the people might still be in ignorance of historical events. Therefore, publications will go to press with facts as they stand on the day of deadlines.