Bill Text: NY S02297 | 2019-2020 | General Assembly | Amended

Bill Title: Enacts the student journalist free speech act to protect student speech at educational institutions unless such speech is libelous, an invasion of privacy, or incites students to commit an unlawful act, violate school policies, or to materially and substantially disrupt the orderly operation of the school.

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Democrat 5-1)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-06-14 - PRINT NUMBER 2297A [S02297 Detail]

Download: New_York-2019-S02297-Amended.html

                STATE OF NEW YORK


                               2019-2020 Regular Sessions

                    IN SENATE

                                    January 23, 2019

        Introduced by Sens. KAVANAGH, HOYLMAN, JACKSON, MAY, O'MARA, STAVISKY --
          read  twice  and  ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to
          the Committee on Education  --  committee  discharged,  bill  amended,
          ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee

        AN  ACT  to amend the education law, in relation to enacting the student
          journalist free speech act

          The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and  Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:

     1    Section  1. The education law is amended by adding a new article 18 to
     2  read as follows:
     3                                 ARTICLE 18
     4                     STUDENT JOURNALIST FREE SPEECH ACT
     5  Section 860. Short title.
     6          861. Definitions.
     7          862. Student journalist free speech rights.
     8          863. Exemptions.
     9          864. Liability.
    10    § 860. Short title. This article shall be known and may  be  cited  as
    11  the "student journalist free speech act".
    12    §  861.  Definitions.  For  the purposes of this article the following
    13  terms shall have the following meanings:
    14    1. "Educational institution" means grades nine  through  twelve  of  a
    15  public high school in a public school district or charter school.
    16    2. "School-sponsored media" means any material that is prepared, writ-
    17  ten,  published,  or broadcast by a student journalist at an educational
    18  institution, distributed or generally made available to members  of  the
    19  student  body, and prepared under the direction of a student media advi-
    20  sor. "School-sponsored media"  shall  not  include  media  intended  for
    21  distribution  or transmission solely in the classroom in which the media
    22  is produced.
    23    3. "Student journalist" means a student  enrolled  in  an  educational
    24  institution  who gathers, compiles, writes, edits, photographs, records,
    25  or prepares information for dissemination in school-sponsored media.

         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        S. 2297--A                          2

     1    4. "Student media advisor" means an individual employed, appointed, or
     2  designated  by  an  educational  institution  to  supervise  or  provide
     3  instruction relating to school-sponsored media.
     4    §  862. Student journalist free speech rights.  1. Except as otherwise
     5  provided in section eight hundred sixty-three of this article, a student
     6  journalist shall have the right to exercise free speech and of the press
     7  in school-sponsored media, regardless of whether the media is  supported
     8  financially  by  the educational institution or by use of the facilities
     9  of an educational institution or produced in conjunction with a class in
    10  which the student is enrolled.
    11    2. Subject to section eight hundred sixty-three of this  article,  the
    12  appropriate  student journalist shall be responsible for determining the
    13  news, opinion, and feature content of school-sponsored media.
    14    3. Nothing in this section shall preclude a student media advisor from
    15  teaching professional standards of English  and  journalism  to  student
    16  journalists  or  from grading the performance of a student in accordance
    17  with such standards.
    18    4. There shall be no prior restraint of material prepared for official
    19  publications of an  educational  institution  except  for  the  material
    20  described in section eight hundred sixty-three of this article.
    21    5.  Educational  institution  administrators  shall have the burden of
    22  demonstrating justification without undue delay prior to a limitation of
    23  student expression under this article.
    24    6. No student media advisor or employee shall be dismissed, suspended,
    25  disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or  otherwise  retaliated  against
    26  solely  for  acting to protect a pupil engaged in the conduct authorized
    27  under this article; and further no student  media  advisor  or  employee
    28  shall  be  dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred or
    29  otherwise retaliated against solely for an action,  undertaken  in  good
    30  faith  with this article, which results in the prohibition of the publi-
    31  cation of speech pursuant to this article.
    32    7. Political expression by students in  school-sponsored  media  shall
    33  not be deemed the use of public funds for political purposes.
    34    §  863.  Exemptions.  The  following  forms of expression shall not be
    35  protected by this article:
    36    1. Expression that is libelous, slanderous or obscene;
    37    2. Expression that constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;
    38    3. Expression that violates federal or state law; or
    39    4. Expression that incites students to  commit  an  unlawful  act,  to
    40  violate  the  policies  of the educational institution, or to materially
    41  and substantially disrupt the  orderly  operation  of  such  educational
    42  institution.
    43    §  864.  Liability.  No expression made by students in the exercise of
    44  free speech or freedom of the press protected by this article  shall  be
    45  deemed  to be an expression of policy, opinion or position of the educa-
    46  tional institution, nor shall any such expression be considered to be an
    47  endorsement in any way by the educational institution and no educational
    48  institution, student media advisor, employee, parent, legal guardian  or
    49  administrator  of an educational institution shall be held liable in any
    50  civil or criminal  action  for  any  expression  made  or  published  by
    51  students,  except  in  cases of willful or wanton misconduct. Nothing in
    52  this section shall be construed to create any private action  on  behalf
    53  of  a student other than to seek injunctive relief allowing the publica-
    54  tion of the speech in question.
    55    § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.