School Board Policy 505 -
Distribution of Non-School-Sponsored Materials on School Premises by Students and Employees
Adopted: august 26, 1996
REVISED: april 13, 2009
revised: august 13, 2012
revised: november 12, 2018
Revised: March 14, 2022
The purpose of this policy is to protect the exercise of students' and employees' free speech rights, taking into consideration the educational objectives and responsibilities of the school district.
II. General Statement of Policy
A. Independent School District 624 recognizes that students and employees have the right, protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, to exercise freedom of expression on school property. Inclusive in this protection is the right to distribute at a reasonable time and place and in a reasonable manner, non-school-sponsored written materials, petitions, buttons, badges or similar items.
B. To protect First Amendment rights, while at the same time preserving the integrity of the educational objectives and responsibilities of the district, the School Board adopts the following regulations and procedures regarding distribution of non- school-sponsored material on school property and at school activities.
A. “Approval” by the school district is not the same as, nor does it imply authorization by the school district.
B. "Community", unless expressly stated otherwise, means the city, town, village or township in which the district is located. Unless otherwise stated, community does not mean only that group of people associated with the schools in the district.
C. “Distribute” or "Distribution" means circulation or dissemination of material by any means, including but not limited to, electronically, handing out free materials, selling or offering materials for sale, accepting donations for materials, posting or displaying material, or placing material in internal staff or student mailboxes.
D. "Distribution time" is the time a person wishes to begin distributing non-school- sponsored material.
E. "Libelous" is a false and unprivileged statement about a specific individual that tends to harm the individual’s reputation or to lower that individual in the self esteem of the community.
F. "Material and substantial disruption” of a normal school activity means:
1. Where the normal school activity is an educational program of the district for which student attendance is compulsory, “material and substantial disruption” is defined as any disruption which interferes with or impedes the implementation of that program.
2. Where the normal school activity is voluntary in nature (including without limitation, school athletic events, school plays and concerts, and lunch periods) “material and substantial disruption” is defined as student rioting, unlawful seizures of property, conduct inappropriate to the event, participation in a school boycott, demonstration, sit-in, stand-in, walk-out, or other related forms of activity.
In order for expression to be considered disruptive, there must exist specific facts upon which the likelihood of disruption can be forecast, including past experience in the school, current events influencing student activities and behavior, and instances of actual or threatened disruption relating to the written material in question.
G. "Minor" means any person under the age of eighteen (18).
H. Non-school-sponsored material" or “unofficial material” includes all materials or objects intended for distribution, except school newspapers, employee newsletters, literary magazines, yearbooks, and other publications funded and/or sponsored or authorized by the school. Examples of non-school- sponsored materials include, but are not limited to, leaflets, brochures, badges, flyers, petitions, posters, and non-school newspapers whether written by students or employees or others, and tangible objects.
I. "Obscene to minors" means:
1. The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the material, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest of minors of the age to whom distribution is requested;
2. The material depicts or describes, in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community concerning how such conduct should be presented to minors of the age to whom distribution is requested, sexual conduct such as intimate sexual acts, masturbation, excretory functions, and exhibition of the genitals; and
3. The material, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.
J. "Posting" means placing material in a conspicuous place for public review.
Examples of conspicuous places for public review include, but are not limited to, bulletin boards, lounges, walls, posts and windows that are frequently viewed by the general school population.
K. "School activities" means any activity of students which is sponsored by the school and includes, but is not limited to, classroom work, library activities, physical education classes, official assemblies and other similar gatherings, school athletic contests, band concerts, school plays and other theatrical productions, and in-school lunch periods.
L. "School property" includes all real property and buildings owned by the school district as well as school buses. It is not limited to any particular school building or to any particular school campus.
A. No person, employee or student may distribute, post, or otherwise display any non-school-sponsored written material without first obtaining the approval of the building principal.
B. Requests for distribution of non-school-sponsored material will be reviewed by the administration on a case-by-case basis. However, distribution of the materials listed below is always prohibited. Material is prohibited that:
1. is obscene to minors;
2. is libelous or slanderous;
3. is pervasively indecent or vulgar; or contains any indecent or vulgar language or representations, with a determination made as to the appropriateness of the material for the age level of students to which it is intended;
4. advertises any product or service not permitted to minors by law;
5. advocates violence or other illegal conduct;
6. constitutes insulting or threatening words, the very expression of which injures or harasses other people (e.g., threats of violence, defamation of character or of a person's race, religion, ethnic origin, gender or sexual orientation);
7. presents a clear and present likelihood that, either because of its content or the manner of distribution, it will cause:
a. a material and substantial disruption of the proper and orderly operation and discipline of the school or school activities;
b. the commission of unlawful acts; or
c. the violation of lawful school regulations.
C. Distribution by students and employees of non-school-sponsored materials on school district property are subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions set forth below. In making decisions regarding the time, place, and manner of distribution, the administration will consider factors including, but not limited to the following:
1. whether the material is educationally related;
2. the extent to which distribution is likely to cause disruption of or interference with the school district’s educational objectives, discipline, or school activities;
3. whether the materials can be distributed from the office or other isolated location so as to minimize disruption of traffic flow in hallways;
4. the quantity or size of materials to be distributed;
5. whether distribution would require assignment of school district staff, used of school district equipment, or other resources;
6. whether distribution would require that non-school persons be present on the school grounds;
7. whether the materials are a solicitation for goods or services not requested by the recipients.
V. Time, Place and Manner of Distribution
A. No non-school-sponsored material shall be distributed during and at the place of a normal school activity if it is reasonably likely to cause a material and substantial disruption of that activity.
B. Distribution of non-school sponsored material is prohibited when it blocks the safe flow of traffic within corridors and entrance ways of the school, and school parking lots. Distribution shall not impede entrance to or exit from school premises in any way.
C. No one shall coerce a student or staff member to accept any publication.
D. The time, place, and manner of distribution will be solely within the discretion of the administration, consistent with the provisions of this policy.
A. Any student or employee wishing to distribute (as defined in this policy) non- school-sponsored material must first submit for approval a copy of the material to the principal at least 48 hours in advance of desired distribution time, together with the following information:
1. Name and phone number of the person submitting the request and, if a student, the room number of his or her first-period class.
2. Date(s) and time(s) of day intended for distribution.
3. Location where material will be distributed.
4. If intended for students, the grade(s) of students to whom the distribution is intended.
B. Within one school day, the building administrator will review the request and render a decision. In the event that permission to distribute the material is denied or limited, the administrator may use any reasonable method to inform the person of the denial or limitation; however, the administrator must upon request of the person submitting the request, provide a written denial of or limitation on the request including the reason(s) for denial or limitations.
C. If the person submitting the request does not receive a response within one school day, the person may contact the office to verify that the lack of response was not due to an inability to locate the person.
D. If the person is dissatisfied with the decision of the administrator, the person may submit a written request for appeal to the Superintendent. If the person does not receive a response within three (3) school days (not counting Saturday, Sunday, and holidays) of submitting the appeal, the person may contact the office of the Superintendent to verify that the lack of response is not due to an inability to locate the person.
E. Permission or denial of permission to distribute material does not imply approval or disapproval of its contents by either the school, the administration of the school, the School Board, or the individual reviewing the material submitted.
VII. Disciplinary Action
A. Distribution by any student of non-school-sponsored material prohibited herein or in violation of the provisions of time, place and manner of distribution as described above will be halted, and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with the school district’s Student Discipline Policy.
B. Distribution by any employee of non-school-sponsored material prohibited herein or in violation of the provisions of time, place and manner of distribution as described above will be halted and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with any individual contract, collective bargaining agreement, school district policies and procedures, and/or governing statute.
C. Any other party violating this policy will be requested to leave school property immediately and, if necessary, the police will be called.
VIII. Permission to Distribute Material Does Not Constitute Approval of Content
A. By allowing distribution of non-school sponsored material, the school district does not in any way imply that the school district, the Superintendent, the principal or any other employee involved in the application procedure approves of the material or its contents.
B. The contents, views and ideas presented in any non-school sponsored material distributed on school property are exclusively the views and ideas of the persons distributing the material. The school district, Superintendent, principal or other employees involved in the application process make no representation, either approving or disapproving of the content of the material, by allowing distribution of the material.
IX. Application to Other School Rules and Policies
Nothing in this policy affects any other policy of School District #624, except that, if this policy conflicts with any other school rule or policy (with the exception of district policy 904 Addendum A regarding elections), this policy regarding distribution of non-school sponsored material shall take precedence over the other policy to the extent necessary to carry out the provisions of this policy regarding distribution of non-school sponsored material.
X. Notice of Policy to Students and Employees
A copy of this policy will be published in student handbooks and posted in school buildings.
The school district administration may develop additional guidelines and procedures necessary to implement this policy for submission to the School Board for approval. Upon approval by the School Board, such guidelines and procedures shall be an addendum to this policy.
U. S. Const., amend. I
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260, 108 S.Ct. 562, 98 L.Ed.2d 592 (1988)
Bethel Sch. Dist. No. 403 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675, 106 S.Ct. 3159, 92 L.Ed.2d 549 (1986)
Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 89 S.Ct. 733, 21 L.Ed.2d 731 (1969)
Bystrom v. Fridley High School, 822 F.2d 747 (8th Cir. 1987)
Roark v. South Iron R-I School Dist., 573 F.3D 556 (8th Cir. 2009)
Victory Through Jesus Sports Ministry Foundation v. Lee’s Summit R-7 School Dist., 640 F.3d 329 (8th Cir. 2011), cert. denied 565 U.S. 1036, 132 S.Ct. 592 (2011)
WBLASB Policy 403 (Discipline, Suspension and Dismissal of School District Employees)
WBLASB Policy 506 (Student Discipline)
WBLASB Policy 512 (School Sponsored Student Publications)
WBLASB Policy 904 (Distribution of Materials on School District Property by Non-school Persons)