Under new law, a student journalist will have the ability to exercise freedom of speech and freedom of the press in "school-sponsored media," which includes anything that is supported financially by the school system or produced in conjunction with a class the student journalist is enrolled in, according to meeting documents.
While this policy does give students rights of freedom of the press, there are some exceptions.
There can be intervention if material: is libelous or slanderous; constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy; violates federal or state law; or incites students to create a clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act, the violation of board and education policies or the material and substantial disruption of orderly operation of the school, according to the documents.
The board can also step in to limit media that is profane, vulgar, lewd, obscene or that has the intent to threaten, harass or intimate, according to the documents.
The original bill didn't have these provisions, O'Neil said.
But, while these exceptions exist, it is up to the board to have the burden of providing justification before taking action.
"We would not be able to impose any form of censorship ... except in some very very limited circumstances," he said. "If we felt like we had a right or a reason to intervene … we have the burden of proving that it's justified."
O'Neil is concerned that this could invite problems, or create unnecessary distractions. Typically, they didn't have issues with student publications, he said, but they'll have to see what happens under the new law.
The school system has three main types of student journalism publications, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Steven Johnson said.
These include high school newspapers and yearbooks, and morning news broadcasts, which span from elementary school to high school.