The Norse Star

Publication Guidelines

5000 Students








July 1, 2021




The Board of Education sponsors student publications and productions as means by which students learn, under adult direction/supervision, the rights and responsibilities inherent when engaging in the public expression of ideas and information in our democratic society.


For purposes of this policy, “school-sponsored student media” shall include both student publications and productions. “Student publications” shall include any written materials, (including, but not limited to, banners, flyers, posters, pamphlets, notices, newspapers, playbills, yearbooks, literary journals, books, and t-shirts and other school-sponsored clothing), as well as material in electronic or on-line form (including, but not limited to, websites, weblogs (“blogs”), video or audio clips, and newsletters or announcements transmitted by e-mail, wireless broadcast or other similar distribution/dissemination). “Student productions” shall include vocal and theatrical performances, impromptu dramatic presentations, or any electronic media (including, but not limited to, radio and television programs, podcasts, and other video or audio productions that are recorded for re-broadcast or broadcast in real time using any available broadcast technology). Further, the term “publication” shall include distribution and dissemination of a student publication; and the term “performance” shall include presentation and broadcast of a student production.


Purpose of Student Publications:


  1. to teach students the ways and ethics of professional journalism and creative expression;
  2. to provide the student body with a forum for open expression within the parameters of student publication guidelines;
  3. to enlighten the school community about events relevant to it.


Student Rights and Responsibilities:


The rights and responsibilities of students are to:


  1. adhere to those professional standards and ethics consistent with the activity regarding questions that may not be addressed by other parts of these student publication guidelines.
  2. adhere to the District’s philosophy of education and its educational goals and objectives.
  3. be open to student expression, containing news and opinion pieces, and be available to the student body and members of the community.
  4. report and editorialize on events, ideas, or issues affecting the school, community, state, nation, and world.
  5. report in a balanced, objective manner.
  6. strive for truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, and fairness in preparation and publication.
  7. produce publications which contain proper sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  8. know, understand, and observe applicable laws regarding libel, slander, obscenity, privacy, copyright and substantial disruption of school activities.
  9. refrain from speech and illustrations that are sexually explicit, vulgar, lewd, libelous, slanderous, or obscene. Occasional use of obscenities, profanities, vulgarities shall be consistent with Associated Press guidelines.
  10. Material which is “obscene” is defined as:
    1. the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the publication, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in sex;
    2. the publication depicts or describes, in an apparently offensive way, sexual conduct that includes sexual acts (normal and perverted), masturbation, and lewd exhibition of the genitals;
    3. the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
  11. refrain from speech that promotes activities, products or services that are unlawful (illegal) as to minors as defined by State or Federal law.
  12. refrain from speech, illustrations, or the distribution of materials which will cause substantial disruption of, or material interference with, school activities. A substantial disruption or interference includes, but is not limited to:
  1. student rioting,
  2. unlawful seizures of property,
  3. destruction of property,
  4. widespread shouting or boisterous conduct,
  5. substantial student participation in a school boycott,
  6. sit-in, stand-in, walk-out, or other related form of activity.


Material that stimulates heated discussion and debate does not constitute the type of substantial disruption prohibited.


Advisor Responsibilities:


The responsibilities of the advisor is to:


  1. guide and direct student publications within the framework of the District’s philosophy of education and its educational goals and objectives;
  2. review materials and their content for violations of the publication guidelines and work with students to correct those errors;
  3. help students develop and monitor an annual budget that reflects expenditures, receipts and proper accounting practices;
  4. teach students to publish with accuracy, insight, fairness, responsibility and with good form and style;
  5. teach students the professional standards and ethics associated with the activity;
  6. review and discuss school and Stoughton community standards of decency and good taste as they instruct and guide the publication; and,
  7. teach students about pertinent school and District policies that govern the publication.


School Board and Administrator Responsibilities:


The responsibilities of the Board and administrator are to:


  1. provide well-qualified advisors for the publications and hold them accountable for the above listed responsibilities;
  2. encourage high quality publications while remaining aware that trial and error is part of the learning process;
  3. support official student publications produced within the student publications guidelines;
  4. not engage in prior review of official student publications because of disagreement over editorial content; and,
  5. not prohibit criticism of school and District policies and practices.


Students shall not be disciplined and/or retaliated against for exercising and/or asserting their free speech rights as defined in this policy. Nothing in this policy, however, restricts the Board’s ability to impose post-publication/performance discipline related to a student engaging in the impermissible publication/performance of unprotected speech.


General Prohibitions


The Board prohibits publications, productions and advertisements that:


  1. promote, favor, or oppose the adoption of any bond issue (excluding editorials);
  2. fail to identify the student or organization responsible for the publication/performance;
  3. solicit funds for non-school organizations or institutions when such solicitations have not been approved by the Board.


Publications and Performances other than the Norse Star:


All other school-sponsored student publications and productions (plays, musicals & performances), including classroom and/or other curricular, co-curricular, or extra-curricular/club related publications and/or productions, are nonpublic forums. As nonpublic forums, the content of these other student publications and productions can be regulated for legitimate pedagogical school-related reasons. School officials shall routinely and systematically review and, if necessary, restrict the content of all other schools-sponsored student media.


© Neola 2012




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