Kansas among five states with law to ensure press freedoms

The Kansas Student Publications Act passed the Kansas Senate 37-2 in 1991 and the Kansas House 79-42 in 1992. Gov. Joan Finney signed the bill into law in 1992. Only five other states have comparable student press law.

Here is what the Kansas statute does and doesn’t do, according to Ron Johnson, Kansas State University journalism professor and director of Student Publications Inc.:

  • The law doesn’t allow student journalists to work unchecked. The statute outlines educational duties of the administration and newspaper adviser.
  • Student editors are responsible for determining news, opinion and advertising content of student publications.
  • School administrators can review the student newspaper before publication under standards of English and journalism.
  • An administrator could step in to remove libelous material, content promoting criminal conduct or writing that creates substantial disruption of normal school activity.
  • Students cannot be forced to delete a story from a newspaper, or require changes to a story, because an administrator deems the subject controversial.
  • Journalism advisers are protected from termination or transfer for refusing to infringe on a student’s freedom of expression under the law.