Sunday, June 19, 2011

Heath HS Principal Spikes Student Paper, says 'sensitive' issues could pose problems

This from the Daily Journal:
A western Kentucky high school administrator spiked the 2011 senior edition of the student newspaper, saying it was an effort to prevent a disturbance and the paper's production was unsupervised.

Heath High School Principal Jon Reid said he confiscated 600 copies of the Heath Post on May 20 because there were "sensitive issues" included in the edition and distribution to students was potentially damaging. Reid had the papers seized no more than 20 minutes after distribution.

"There should have been an adult to look over it," Reid said.

Seniors Chelsea Harris, Sarah Quarles and Lexy Gross produced the edition over two months. Quarles told The Paducah Sun that the confiscation was "offensive." 
"I cared because I put so much work into it. It wasn't right at all," Harris added.

Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate for the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va., agrees the action was not only unfair, but said it was illegal.

Constitutional free speech laws give students the right to publish anything they want as long as it does not create a physical disturbance that would hinder the school's instructional environment, such as a protest, walkout or bomb threat, Goldstein said.

"The real simple principle here, that I think the school should take to heart, is if you have to ask if it's a disruption, it's a not a disruption," he said. "Orderly complaints aren't going to cause a problem. The idea that something that can be disruptive in a way that nobody but the principal notices is laughable. It doesn't even approach what the legal standard is." ...

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