Washington State's New Anti-Censorship Law Gives Student Journalists More Rights Than Supreme Court

by | March 23, 2018

By Neal Morton

After of lobbying from students and teachers, a bill to prevent school administrators from censoring the work of student journalists has became law.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5064 Wednesday in front of a group of students, teachers and school administrators in Olympia. The new law, which goes into effect this June, makes Washington the last state on the West Coast to pass an "anti-Hazelwood law," a reference to a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made it legal for school administrators to censor content in school newspapers and other student-run media.

Now, public-school students in Washington will have the final call on what to publish, with a few exceptions for libel or otherwise illegal content.

"Students deserve a chance to investigate and write stories that are relevant to them without wondering if their work will be censored," state Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, said in a statement.

Fain sponsored SB 5064 this year, although the legislation has been introduced in Olympia four different times, in various forms, by three different lawmakers since 2007.

The bill remained largely intact as it moved through the state House and Senate this year, with the exception of a few amendments: Content published in school-sponsored media cannot harass or bully students, violate FCC regulations or incite the breaking of school rules.

(c)2018 The Seattle Times