2002: Dean VS. Utica

February 23, 2023

In 2002 Joanne and Rey Francis filed a lawsuit against the Utica Community School District. They claimed that a school district-owned bus garage produced unwanted fumes and noises in the surrounding areas. bus garage neighbor Rey Francis developed lung cancer two years prior due to the diesel exhaust fumes.

Arrow staff members Katherine Dean and Dan Butts sued the school district for not allowing them to write an article about the issue.

After a back and forth, the court found that the Utica Community School District was “indefensible”, meaning that the school couldn’t block or pick and choose what the school newspaper wrote and published. The article met the standards of reporting in a limited public forum and didn’t break any of the publication policies.

What this means for free speech: The case helped many other student journalists, limiting the impact of Hazelwood by banning administrators from blocking articles because the coverage might paint the school in a negative light or because they didn’t agree with them.

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