First, the Times has no story. They link to the My Ballard site story but are strangely quiet about it even as it's a pretty slow news day. A story about freedom of the press that involves candidates for School Board right before election day? You'd think that would interest any newspaper. But not our Times. Apparently, mums the word until AFTER the election.
Trouble is, the Times isn't the only story and now The Stranger has picked it up. Here's one comment:
I'm glad I procrastinated mailing my ballot until after reading this. I was considering voting for (Stranger endorsed) Martin-Morris, but not anymore.
Here's the old policy wording:
Students have the right to FREEDOM OF THE PRESS and may express their personal opinions in writing. They must take full responsibility for the content of their publications by identifying themselves as authors and or editors of the publication. They are not allowed to make personal attacks or publish libelous or obscene material. –Seattle Public Schools Student Rights and Responsibilities 2011-2012
here's the new policy wording (including student behavior):
The principal may request to review any copy prior to its publication. Material must be free of content that: runs counter to the instructional program; is libelous; obscene or profane; contains threats of violence towards a person; invades a person’s privacy; demeans any race, religion, sex, or ethnic group; advocates the violation of the law or school rule; advertises the tobacco products, liquor, illicit drugs, or drug paraphernalia; materially and substantially disrupts the operations of the school; or, is inappropriate for the maturity level of the students.
The Superintendent is authorized to develop guidelines assuring that students are able to enjoy free expression of opinion while maintaining orderly conduct of the school.–Superintendent Procedure 3220SP
In order for a student publication or speech to be restricted for causing a material and substantial disruption, there must exist specific facts upon which it would be reasonable to forecast that a clear and present likelihood of an immediate substantial disruption to normal school activity would occur if the material were published and distributed. Material and substantial disruption includes, but is not necessarily limited to: student riots; destruction of property; widespread shouting or boisterous conduct; or substantial student participation in a school boycott, sit in, stand-in, walk-out or other form of activity.
Holy Cow! Now they want to get rid of the cheerleaders! Because as I recall it IS their job to create widespread shouting and boisterous conduct. And no boycotts or sit-ins or any of that civil disobedience stuff like...who was that guy who did all that in the '60s? History is for history books, right?
Look, I don't believe student newspapers are going to write manifestos to burn down the school. Nor do I think most students care enough to walk out of school on any given day for any given reason. But yes, sometimes you have to stand up and be counted and yes, maybe walk out of school.
At the end of day, we teach these students (and fast-becoming young adults) NOTHING by trying to muzzle them and lock them in a school building. We teach them nothing about fairness by having 10+ principal "editors in chief", all who may or may not agree on what can or cannot be printed in the student newspaper. (And I thought that, more and more, principals were to be the academic leaders but boy, between figuring out what is an excused vacation and what isn't and now being the editor of the high school newspaper, they have a lot on their plates.)
What is the problem the district is trying to solve?
Are they mad because the Sisleys, noted pains-in-the-ass and alleged "slumlords", were willing to go to court over an alleged offense in the Roosevelt newspaper? Please.
And, keep in mind, that if one of our new editors-in-chief (and/or their teacher adviser) errs in their editing, the district will REALLY get sued.
What did that lawyer say in KUOW's interview?
Hiestand: "The minute that you open the door and say that a principal has that authority, as a plaintiff's attorney, you know, I start to salivate."
Because, he says, that ties the student newspaper to the school district. And a plaintiff could argue the district is responsible for content.
I'm think I'm going to start an on-line petition.