Tuesday, November 11, 2008

High school shuts down student paper

The San Mateo Daily Journal reports that the principal of Carlmont High School in Belmont has shut down the student newspaper saying it needs more supervision. The move came after the paper printed a satirical story by one student about his own sexiness.

The paper, the Scots Express, is published by a journalism club and does not have a faculty advisor. The paper is funded by ads the students sell on their own, although Principal Andrea Jenoff says some money comes from the school's site council. The editor, Alex Zhang, also sits on the site council and wasn't aware of any money the council gave to his paper.

According to the Daily Journal, Zhang and Jack Dooley, who wrote the satire piece, were called into the principal's office on Monday and were told that the paper would be canceled due to its content.

As the Journal reported:
    If the decision was content based, it goes against California law, explained Frank LoMonte, Student Press Law Center executive director. California has two layers of protection for student writers: The First Amendment and the Leonard Law, which prohibits schools from disciplining students for protected speech.

    Unless the story causes a true disruption, it is protected, said LoMonte, who added canceling the paper is the ultimate form of censorship.

    The decision discouraged state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, the author of a new law protecting high school teachers and school employees from retaliation as a result of student speech.

    The idea that children could learn that their ideas can and will be censored also did not sit well with Yee, who hoped the administration would reconsider its decision.

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