Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Communication and Information



First Advisor

Dr. Richard Labunski


This dissertation will identify and describe the state of the law regarding student speech and press freedom. The following questions will be explored: What rights do young people have? What standards have state and federal courts established? To what extent and how clearly have state statutes defined student expressive rights? What do state laws say about this topic? What issues have yet to be addressed, either because a case has not raised certain issues or because the issue does not lend itself to compromise or a clear solution? How does the capacity of social media for widespread and rapid dissemination affect the balancing of First Amendment rights with other interests?

Among other topics, the dissertation will discuss the development of First Amendment law, the strengthening of student expression law in the 1960s, the curtailment of student expression rights at the K-12 level in the 1980s, and state legislation that protects student expression at the K-12 and university levels. The conclusion will contain strategies for the enhancement of students’ First Amendment rights.