The Puyallup School Board wants to keep fighting for a state law to protect school districts and support the rights of student journalists, with or without support from a statewide association of school board members.
If it becomes law, the Puyallup proposal would prevent school districts from being sued over items that appear in student publications. At the same time, it would exempt student publications from pre-publication review by school administrators.
A bill with similar provisions failed to pass the state Legislature in 2007.
The board recently asked the Washington State School Directors’ Association to support such a law, but WSSDA’s legislative committee chose not to recommend it.
At a meeting Monday, Puyallup board members pledged to take the proposal to the full WSSDA legislative assembly in September, said School Board Vice President Cindy Poysnick. And if that’s not successful, she said, the board plans to go directly to other school districts and to state legislators with the idea.
“We feel pretty strongly,” Poysnick said. “We made a commitment to these kids (student journalists) to do everything we could possibly do.”
Issues surrounding student publications drew attention in Puyallup after the school district was sued over a 2008 article published by the student news magazine at Emerald Ridge High School. The school district won the case in Pierce County Superior Court in April, but it has been appealed by the plaintiffs – four students who contend they did not give permission for their names to be used when they were quoted in an article about oral sex among teens.
The district enacted its prior-review rule in 2008, after parents threatened litigation over the oral sex stories.
The rule requires principals to review school newspapers and yearbooks before publication, and to review drama and broadcast productions before going live.