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Roseville District Directs Superintendent To Review School Newspaper Ads

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ROSEVILLE (CBS13) – A school district’s decision regarding a student newspaper now has some saying First Amendment rights are being violated.

It all started with a parent complaint over a billboard at a school stadium advertising for tattoos and piercings.
Now the Roseville school district is focused on all school advertising, including what’s in school publications.

Roseville High School student newspaper adviser Bobby Ritter is outraged.

“There was one little problem at one venue and now they’re trying to enact a policy that effects everyone,” he said.

The school board is recommending the superintendent approve all ads in the district’s school newspapers and yearbooks.

“If somebody advertises in our newspaper, not only is it not the position of the school, it’s not even the position of our publication,” Ritter said. “It’s clearly a paid ad.”

California law says that a student run newspaper is free and independent of the school. Ritter fears the superintendent’s oversight takes away a right to free speech.

“They don’t have the right to infringe on our content, whether it’s editorial or advertising,” he said.

CBS13 tried to speak to the school board about their decision but they would only give us a written statement, saying they chose to revise that policy this month because it was outdated.

But students worry the superintendent will censor political and religious ads or anything they think is “inappropriate”.

“Definitely against it,” said Wild Bill’s Tattoo shop owner Bill Hill.

Hill is worried his business will be targeted. It was his billboard that led to this change in policy. Bill worries his ads in several school newspapers will be pulled.

“Twenty or 25 years ago I would expect that, but this day and age tattoos are everywhere,” he said.

The ACLU is now taking a look at whether the district’s policy will violate state law, and other school districts will likely keep a close eye on what happens in Roseville.

“It’s possible that whatever happens in the next few weeks might impact other districts that have enacted similar policies when they come to find out that they are in fact illegal,” Ritter said.

The issue goes to the school board to review on Nov. 13.

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