25 Years of Hazelwood

In January of 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case Hazelwood School District vs. Kuhlmeier. The ruling limited the strong First Amendment protection that had been afforded scholastic journalists by the courts before that time. Public school officials were given greater — but not unlimited — authority to censor than they’d ever had before.

In the years since the Hazelwood ruling, a number of states have enacted laws to protect student free expression. But in most places, censorship is a fact of life for high school journalists.

In November 2012, almost 25 years after the Hazelwood ruling, the Center for Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University interviewed long-time high school journalism teachers and media advisers who had lived through the transition from a pre-Hazelwood to a post-Hazelwood world. We asked them to describe their experiences in dealing with the consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision.