Main Navigation - Mobile

109 Policy: Distribution of Materials on School Premises

Decorative image with colored diamonds on gray background
109 Policy: Distribution of Materials on School Premises

Continue to Guideline 109.1: Distribution of Nonschool-Sponsored Materials by Students and Employees


This policy shall protect the exercise of students' and employees' free speech rights, taking into consideration the educational objectives and responsibilities of Richfield Public Schools.

Additionally, this policy provides for distribution of materials appropriate to the school setting by nonstaff and nonstudents on District property in a reasonable time, place, and manner which does not disrupt the educational program nor interfere with the educational objectives of the District.


The 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. To protect First Amendment rights, while at the same time preserving the integrity of the educational objectives and responsibilities of the District, the following policy provides regulations regarding distribution of nonschool-sponsored material on school property and at school activities.

The District also intends to provide a method for nonschool persons and organizations to distribute materials appropriate to the school setting, within the limitations and provisions of this policy. The following regulations and procedures provide for orderly and nondisruptive distribution of materials.


A. “Distribute” or "Distribution" means circulation or dissemination of material by means of handing out free copies, selling or offering copies for sale, accepting donations for copies, posting or displaying material, placing material in internal staff or student mailboxes or by electronic communication.

B. "Nonschool-sponsored material" or "unofficial material" includes all materials or objects intended for distribution; except school newspapers; employee newsletters; informational communications among employees; literary magazines; yearbooks; organizations advertising programs, activities, products or services as permitted by Board Policy 563: Advertising in the Schools; 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.

C. “Nonschool person” means any person who is not currently enrolled as a student in or employed by the school district.

D. "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 depicts or describes, in a manner that is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community concerning how such conduct should be presented to minors of the age to whom distribution is requested, sexual conduct such as intimate sexual acts, masturbation, excretory functions, and lewd exhibition of the genitals; and

3. The material, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.

E. "Minor" means any person under the age of eighteen (18).

F. "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, without limitation, 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.

G. "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.

H. "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.


A. Distribution of the materials listed below is always prohibited. Material is prohibited that:

1. is obscene to minors;

2. is libelous or slanderous;

3. is pervasively indecent or vulgar or contains any indecent or vulgar language or representations, with a determination made as to the appropriateness of the material for the age level of students to which it is intended.

4. advertises or promotes any product or service not permitted to minors by law;

5. advocates violence or other illegal conduct;

6. constitutes insulting or fighting words, the very expression of which injures or harasses other people (e.g., threats of violence, defamation of character or of a person's race, religious or ethnic origin);

7. presents a clear and present likelihood that, either because of its content or the manner of distribution, it will cause a material and substantial disruption of the proper and orderly operation and discipline of the school or school activities, will cause the commission of unlawful acts or the violation of lawful school regulations.


A. Students and employees of the District have the right to distribute, at reasonable times and places as set forth in this policy, and in a reasonable manner, nonschool-sponsored material.

B. Any student or, employee wishing to distribute nonschool-sponsored material must first seek permission in advance from the building administrator, in accordance with procedures outlined in Administrative Guideline 109.1.  Requests for distribution of nonschool-sponsored material will be reviewed by the administration on a case-by-case basis.


A. Permission for nonschool persons to distribute materials on District property is a privilege and not a right. Nonschool persons and organizations may, within the provisions of this policy, be granted permission to distribute, at reasonable times and places as set forth in this policy, and in a reasonable manner, materials and objects which are appropriate to the school setting.

B. Materials distributed by nonschool persons or groups intended for the parents and families of Richfield Public Schools students must be translated into any and all languages native to 10% or more of our registered students.

C. Any nonschool person wishing to distribute materials must first submit for approval a copy of the materials to the administration at least five days in advance of desired distribution time, together with the following information:

1. Name and phone number of the person submitting the request.

2. Date(s) and time(s) of day of requested distribution.

3. If material is intended for students, the grade(s) of students to whom the distribution is intended.

4. The proposed method of distribution.

D. The administration will review the request and render a decision. The administration will assign a location and method of distribution and will inform the persons submitting the request whether nonschool persons may be present to distribute the materials.  In the event that permission to distribute the materials is denied or limited, the person submitting the request should be informed in writing of the reasons for the denial or limitation.

E. 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.

F. In the event that permission to distribute materials is denied, the nonschool person or organization may request reconsideration of the decision by the superintendent.  The request for reconsideration must be in writing and must set forth the reasons why distribution is desirable and in the interest of the school community.


A. In making decisions regarding the time, place, and manner of distribution, the administration will consider factors including, but not limited to the following:

1. whether the material is educationally related;

2. the extent to which distribution is likely to cause disruption of or interference with the District’s educational objectives, discipline or school activities;

3. whether the materials can be distributed from the office or other isolated location so as to minimize disruption of traffic flow in hallways;

4. the quantity or size of materials to be distributed;

5. whether distribution would require assignment of District staff, use of school district equipment or other resources;

6. whether distribution would require that nonschool persons be present on the school grounds;

7. whether the materials are a solicitation for goods or services not requested by the recipients.

B. No nonschool-sponsored material shall be distributed during and at the place of a normal school activity if it is reasonably likely to cause a material and substantial disruption of that activity.

C. Distribution of nonschool-sponsored material is prohibited when it blocks the safe flow of traffic within corridors and entrance ways of the school, and school parking lots. Distribution shall not impede entrance to or exit from school premises in any way.

D. No one shall coerce a student or staff member to accept any publication.

E. The time, place, and manner of distribution of noncurricular materials by students or employees to students on school premises shall be governed by the procedures established by the administration and outlined in Administrative Guideline 109.1.

F. If permission is granted pursuant to this policy for the distribution of materials by nonschool persons or organizations, the time, place and manner of distribution will be solely within the discretion of the administration, consistent with the provisions of this policy.


A. 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 Board Policy 541: Student Behavior.

B. 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 the appropriate individual contract, collective bargaining agreement, school board policies and procedures, and/or governing statute.

C. 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 posted on the website and available for review in each school office.   A summary of the policy will be published in student handbooks and posted in school buildings.


The District administration may develop any additional guidelines and procedures necessary to implement this policy.


Legal References:  

U.S. Constitution, First Amendment.

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 565 U.S. 1036 (2011)

Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., 473 U.S. 788, 105 S.Ct. 3439, 87 L.Ed.2d 567 (1985)

Perry Education Ass’n v. Perry Local Educators’ Ass’n, 460 U.S. 37, 103 S.Ct. 948, 74 L.Ed.2d 794 (1983)

Minn. Stat. §609.605, subd. 4 - Trespasses on school property


Cross References: 

Board Policy 541: Student Behavior

Board Policy 563: Advertising in the Schools

Board Policy 613: Religion in the Schools

Board Policy 616: School-Sponsored Student Publications

Board Policy 801: Student Use of Secondary School Facilities

Board Policy 953: Visitors to School District Buildings and Sites




REVISED BY THE BOARD OF EDUCATION: December 20, 2004; November 6, 2006; December 5, 2011; April 3, 2017; February 6, 2023