OFFICIAL STUDENT PUBLICATIONS REGULATION
following definitions are provided to assist in the interpretation of this
An "official school publication" is any curricular or co-curricular student
publication or broadcast, including but not limited to newspapers, yearbooks,
literary magazines, television, radio or cable television programs produced in
curricular or co-curricular journalism or journalism-related activities under
the sponsorship of the District and distributed or disseminated to the student
body either free or for a fee.
"Obscene material" means that which the average person, applying community
standards, finds as a whole to appeal to a minor's prurient interest in sex,
and depicts or describes in an offensive way sexual conduct or sexual acts,
and which lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
For purposes of an audience of students, forms of expression
that are vulgar, indecent, lewd, or sexually explicit may be considered
"Libelous" statements are false, unprivileged statements the average reader
would interpret as statements of fact and which damage the reputation of an
individual or business.
4. "Encourage" means to spur on, stimulate, or foster.
Mere factual reporting of controversial issues shall not be considered
"Material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school"
means student actions or behaviors that can reasonably be believed or feared
to significantly interrupt school activities or intrude unreasonably in school
affairs. The phrase also includes interference with the
rights of others. Examples that might reasonably lead to
the forecast of material and substantial disruption include, but are not
limited to, student violence or rioting; unlawful seizures of property;
vandalism to or destruction of property; boycotts, sit-ins, walk-outs or
related activities at school.
The undifferentiated fear or apprehension of a potential disturbance is
not adequate justification for suppressing student expression; the ability to
show substantial facts that reasonably support a forecast of likely disruption
is required. Past experience under similar circumstances,
current events influencing student activities and behavior, and instances of
actual or threatened disruption relating to the material in question may be
RESTRAINT OF MATERIAL PREPARED FOR AN OFFICIAL SCHOOL PUBLICATION.
No student shall publish in an official school publication material
which is obscene, libelous, or encourages students to commit unlawful acts,
violate school rules, cause the material and substantial disruption of the
orderly operation of the school, or infringe on the rights of others.
FAIR COMMENT RULE.
Student journalists are entitled to the protection of the "fair comment
rule," which provides that all persons are free to express opinions on matters
of common interest. Students are free to comment
responsibly on school policies or the performance of school administrators,
teachers, or employees, so long as the comments or criticisms are statements
of opinion and are not libelous. However, student
journalists are not entitled to a wholesale defamation exemption under the
fair comment rule merely by including the disclaimer "In my opinion" or a
similar phrase in conjunction with a false and damaging statement.
Public officials or "public figures" who claim to be libeled must prove
the student journalist made false statements with actual malice, i.e., that
the journalist knew the statement was false or acted recklessly in failing to
verify the statement. School officials are generally deemed
public figures in student publications concerning school-related activities.
School employees may or may not be public figures; the
determination often depends on the involvement of the employee in issues of
Private persons, those not in the public eye, must show that a
statement was made negligently, i.e., that the journalist failed to exercise
reasonable care in preparing the article, to prove libel.
If, in the opinion of the student editor, student editorial staff,
faculty adviser, or school official, material proposed for publication may
fall within the prohibitions of Section B of this Regulation, legal advice
should be sought.
Students who believe they have been unreasonably restricted in the
exercise of their freedom of expression in official student publications have
the right to appeal the decision utilizing the Student Complaint Procedure of
Any person aggrieved by the content of official student publications is
directed to use the complaint procedure of Code 229.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF STUDENT JOURNALISTS.
Student journalists who participate in official school publications are
responsible for the content of those publications. Student
journalists should at all times strive to achieve professional standards of
accuracy, fairness, objectivity and thoroughness in each and every aspect of
the publication. Student journalists should also strive to
achieve professional standards of grammar, usage, punctuation and spelling,
which are important to the clarity and accuracy of the publication.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF FACULTY ADVISERS.
Schools possess a substantial educational interest in teaching student
writers journalistic skills. Journalism advisers shall
supervise student writers to maintain professional standards of English and
journalism and to comply with
Iowa law, including the restrictions against unlawful speech in
Iowa Code Section 280.22.
Student expression in official school publications shall not be deemed
to be an expression of school policy. The public school
district and school employees or officials shall not be liable in any civil or
criminal action for any student expression made or published by students,
unless the school employees or officials have interfered with or altered the
content of the student's speech or expression, and then only to the extent of
the interference or alteration of the speech or expression.
Student journalists must recognize that with editorial control comes
responsibility for the content of the publication.
Adopted: March 13, 2000
URBANDALE COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF DIRECTORS