"School officials have been so authoritarian with their school sponsored media, censoring them so completely that students are looking for new ways to express themselves," said Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center.(7)
In September 2000, the students' of Sidwell Friends HS (Chelsea Clinton's alma mater) printed a blank page on the cover of their school newspaper in rebellion to administrators pulling an article about some wrongdoings in a math class. The students then decided to post the article on the Internet, from a student's home computer.(6)
Underground newspapers have been launched all over the country. The Student Press Law Center in Arlington, VA estimates there are at least 10,000 underground high school newspapers and Web sites around the Internet.
"For school officials, though, the online underground paper raises new concerns about how to balance the First Amendment with rising anxiety about school safety." (6)
There were calls to "do something" about the Internet after it was revealed that the two teens who killed their fellow Columbine High School students were Internet users who had a Web site with links to sites that espoused violence and racism.(3)
In April (2000) a Florida teen was sentenced to four months in a prison for sending an Internet threat to a Columbine High School student, saying he would finish what two gunmen started.(4)
Several courts have ruled that students cannot be censored from what they publish from their home computers. Non-profit sites such as Wire Tap, have been launched recently giving students a place to post "banned" articles on the Web.
The Bolt Reporter posts "solid" student journalism that has been censored from school papers. The publication will be a beacon to alert students to the perils of censorship and the power of careful journalism. Some of the articles, while not necessarily banned from school papers, push the edge of what some administrators might feel comfortable about publishing. (5) Student built sites are becoming a common part of the teenage experience as writing grim poetry. From the expected teenage gossip of who is dating whom to serious topics like alleged rape, the content of these sites reveal a glimpse of the real high school experience.
Criminal charges have been brought against some students when their Web site is filled with slander about other students. The law still applies to a Web site, since it is a form of written communication. Some teachers have chosen to turn this situation in a learned one by teaching valuable lessons about libel and how to practice good journalism.(6)