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How do I know if my school's newspaper is a limited public forum?

Question | Student Press
How do I know if my school's newspaper is a limited public forum?

Questions to ask to determine if your school newspaper is a limited public forum

  1. Do students produce the paper as part of the school curriculum? 
  2. Do students receive credits/grades for writing for the newspaper or are their grades based on other activities? 
  3. Does the school help in funding the newspaper, or do students raise money for it? 
  4. Does a faculty member oversee the production of the newspaper? 
  5. Did the school break any of its usual policies by publishing the paper? 
  6. How much control does the school administration and/or faculty advisor have in choosing what is written in the school newspaper? 
  7. The Board of Education probably has a written policy about student press—does their policy raise any issues? 
  8. Does the school’s written policy about the newspaper define the newspaper as a limited public forum or non-public forum? 
  9. Do school officials usually regulate the newspaper? If so, how? 


The more factors on the list that identify the school newspaper as a limited public forum, the less likely it is that a principal can censor a story critical of the school. For example, if (1) the school administration doesn’t usually review student articles before being published, (2) the faculty advisor gives advice, but usually takes a backseat in deciding what stories get published, and/or (3) the students sell ads to pay for the newspaper, the newspaper is probably a limited-public forum where student speech rights are more protected. Remember, each case is different! There’s no magic number of factors that make your school a limited-public forum, you have to consider everything together!

Have questions about free speech rights?

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