FREE PRESS -- High school students and their faculty advisor on the school newspaper
convinced a federal judge in San Diego to strike most of the
affirmative defenses raised by their school district in a lawsuit over
a principal's decision to shut down the newspaper over content
disputes, reports Scott Clines for Courthouse News Service.

During the 2007-08 school year, Fallbrook High
School seniors Chantal Ariosta and Margaret Dupes wrote articles for
the student paper, The Tomahawk. Ariosta's article was critical of
former Fallbrook Union High School superintendent Tom Anthony's refusal
to comply with a fire marshal request to close Fallbrook High School
for use as an evacuation center during the wildfires of October 2007.

Dupes wrote an editorial that critiqued the Bush administration's
abstinence-only sex education policies and a supporting rally held at
the school that year.

Fallbrook High School principal Rod King ordered the articles removed shortly after they were published.

Teacher
David Evans served as the faculty advisor to the journalism class and
the student paper. In June 2008, he complained to the school district's
president about King's actions in removing the articles.

The
next day, King met with Evans and expressed his displeasure over Evans'
conversation with the school district president. During this meeting,
King informed Evans that the journalism class was canceled and The
Tomahawk
would no longer be published.

Evans, Ariosta, Dupes
and a third student editor named Daniela Rogulj, along with two other
students who planned on taking the journalism class before it was
canceled, filed suit against the school district and King. The lawsuit
alleges violations of California law and federal constitutional
violations, including violations of the First Amendment.