Monday, November 17, 2008

District does an about face after closing paper

The Sequoia Union High School District, which serves southern San Mateo County, plans to look at ways it can improve journalism programs at all of it schools following the controversy that erupted after one of its schools "canceled" a student newspaper for "inappropriate" content.

At Belmont's Carlmont High School, editor Alex Zhang and reporter Jack Dooley said they were called into the principal's office and told their paper, the Scots Express, had been "canceled" and would no longer be published. They were handed a note from the school saying the cancelation was due to an "inappropriate" article.

The article was a satirical piece in which Dooley discusses his own "sexiness." The story contained no profanity or sexual descriptions.

Carlmont Principal Andrea Jenoff later told reporters the paper was canceled because it no longer had a faculty adviser, who apparently quit the paper after the issue with the Dooley article.

Pat Gemma, superintendent of the school district, told the San Mateo Daily Journal that a newspaper advisor may have been identified and may begin to work with the students in January.

“(Journalism) is a very important piece to the education of youth in a democratic society,” Gemma told the Journal.

He said he is establishing a group to develop quality advisors and teachers of journalism throughout the district despite a tight budget. Gemma said this incident is an opportunity for the district to evaluate standards in place, learn from "best practices" and put together quality programs available at all the district’s schools.

“From a district perspective, this is a teachable moment,” Gemma said.

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