-- VERBOTEN T-SHIRTS
Page B1, Thursday, April 2, 2009
Student free speech would be safe under proposed bill
A Connecticut legislative committee has endorsed a bill that would bar schools from punishing students for most of their off-campus comments.
The bill stems from the case of a former student at Lewis S. Mills High School in Burlington who was disciplined for using a derogatory term about school officials in her Internet blog.
The proposal would protect students' free speech rights outside of school, except when the comments are intended to harass, intimidate or threaten other students and school employees.
The Judiciary Committee endorsed the bill Tuesday night, sending it to the Senate for consideration. It would also require House approval.
As for Avery Doninger, who graduated from Lewis Mills in 2008, U.S. District Court Judge Mark R. Kravitz dismissed much of her free speech claim in January. A jury trial this summer will focus on whether school administrators violated Doninger's First Amendment rights by preventing students from wearing "Team Avery" t-shirts to a school election. Jury selection is scheduled to begin June 2 for the June 4 trial in federal court in New Haven.