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.


    1. The school district recognizes that students and employees have the right to express themselves on school property. This protection includes the right to distribute, at a reasonable time and place and in a reasonable manner, nonschool-sponsored material.
    2. To protect First Amendment rights, while at the same time preserving the integrity of the educational objectives and responsibilities of the school district, the school board adopts the following regulations and procedures regarding distribution of nonschool-sponsored material on school property and at school activities.


    1. “Distribute” or “Distribution” means circulation or dissemination of material by submitting an application to the principal(s) of the subject school(s). If the application is accepted, the school will request the appropriate amount of copies or material to be posted online and provide a deadline for the receipt of said information or hard copies.
    2. “Nonschool-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 nonschool-sponsored materials include, but are not limited to, leaflets, brochures, buttons, badges, flyers, petitions, posters, and underground newspapers whether written by students or employees or others, and tangible objects.
    3. “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, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.
    4. “Minor” means any person under the age of eighteen (18).
    5. “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 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, specific facts must exist 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.
    6. “School activities” means any activity sponsored by the school including, but 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.
    7. “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 esteem of the community.


    1. Students and employees of the school district have the right to request distribution of nonschool-sponsored material.
    2. Requests for distribution of nonschool-sponsored material will be reviewed by the administration on a case-by-case basis. Materials must not conflict with the following beliefs:
      1. every person needs to feel valued, respected, and safe;
      2. strong individuals and communities depend on giving to, caring for, and serving each other;
      3. communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity are necessary to thrive in a changing world;
      4. honesty and integrity are essential to all positive relationships;
      5. every person learns uniquely;
      6. success can come from the ability to learn from and work through adversity;
      7. every person has value with skills and talents that make them unique;
      8. success can come from the ability to learn from and work through adversity;
      9. involvement in meaningful activities enriches lives
    3. Distribution by students and employees of nonschool-sponsored materials on school district property are subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions set forth below. The administration will determine the most appropriate method of distribution.


    1. Any student or employee wishing to distribute (as defined in this policy) nonschool-sponsored material must first submit for approval a copy of the material to the principal at least 72 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. Requested location for material to be distributed.
      4. If material is intended for students, the grade(s) of students to whom the distribution is intended.
    2. Within two school days, the principal will review the request and render a decision. In the event that permission to distribute the material is denied or limited, the person submitting the request should be informed in writing of the reasons for the denial or limitation.
    3. If the person submitting the request does not receive a response within two school days, the person shall contact the office to verify that the lack of response was not due to an inability to locate the person.
    4. If the person is dissatisfied with the decision of the principal, the person may submit a written request for appeal to the superintendent or designee. If the person does not receive a response within three (3) school days (not counting Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) of submitting the appeal, the person shall contact the office of the superintendent or designee to verify that the lack of response is not due to an inability to locate the person.
    5. 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.


    1. Distribution by any student of nonschool-sponsored material prohibited herein or in violation of the provisions of time, place, and manner of distribution as described above will be halted and disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with the school district’s Student Discipline Policy.
    2. Distribution by any employee of nonschool-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.
    3. Any other party violating this policy will be requested to leave the school property immediately and, if necessary, the police will be called.


    A copy of this policy will be published in student handbooks and posted in school buildings.


    The school district administration may develop any 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.

    Source: Cambridge-Isanti Schools

    Legal References:

    • 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-1 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 ___U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 592 (2011)

    Cross References:

    • Policy 403 (Discipline, Suspension, and Dismissal of School District Employees)
    • Policy 506 (Student Discipline)
    • Policy 512 (School-Sponsored Student Publications)
    • Policy 904 (Distribution of Materials on School District Property by Nonschool Persons)
    • MSBA Service Manual, Chapter 13, School Law Bulletin "K" (Personal Liability of Individual School Board Members for Dollar Damages for Violation of Students Civil Rights Under the Civil Rights Act of 1871)

    Reviewed: 1-24-02, 1-22-04, 5-22-08, 7-22-10, 06-18-15, 4-21-22

    Approved: 9-24-98, 2-21-02, 2-19-04, 5-22-08, 7-22-10, 07-23-15, 5-19-22

Policy Manual