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Student press rights bill to go to MI senate for a vote

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A bill to protect freedom of expression and of the press for Michigan student journalists at public schools and universities was unanimously passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. 

The bill protects student journalists from censorship in school-sponsored media, including newspapers, broadcasts and yearbooks.

"I believe there is a lot of censorship," says the bill's sponsor, Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge). "And students are openly told they can't write about what they want."

"Let's follow the constitution. Let's have freedom of speech," Jones said. "We want young investigative journalists to learn their craft."

Under the bill, school districts could still censor stories that are libelous, slanderous, unwarranted invasions of privacy, or violate school policies or the law.

The Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals opposes the bill.    

Bob Kefgen, the association's Assistant Director for Government Relations, says there are concerns that schools wouldn't have the same kind of editorial control that publishers and editors outside the school environment have.

Kefgen also says students have other avenues besides school media to express their views. "Students can still write their blogs, post on social media, start their own websites," said Kefgen. "This is about editorial control over school-run publications."