2 Calif. high school newspapers shuttered

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Editor’s note: The Associated Press reported on Dec. 18 that the Fallbrook Union High School District had voted for a settlement and agreed to publish the two previously censored stories. The proposed settlement requires that students be allowed to publish at least four issues of the newspaper per year and that the district reimburse both the faculty adviser and attorneys for the students for a total of $27,500.

Two high schools in California are without student newspapers after
administrators near San Diego and in the Bay Area decided to shutter the

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued a high school in north San Diego
County, saying it violated free-speech rights by scrapping its journalism class,
shuttering the student newspaper and removing the publication’s faculty

The dispute centers on two Tomahawk articles — a November 2007 story
that reported on the superintendent's alleged refusal to close Fallbrook High
School during last year's wildfires, and a May 2008 editorial that questioned
abstinence-only sex education.

In its lawsuit filed Nov. 10 in San Diego Superior Court, the ACLU asks that
the journalism class be restored and that Dave Evans be returned to his job as
faculty adviser.

San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the ACLU also is asking for a
court order prohibiting school officials from censoring any future publication
of the two articles.

The newspaper quoted David Blair-Loy, legal director for the ACLU of San
Diego and Imperial Counties, as saying: “The principal had no right to censor
the article or the editorial, and (the principal) unfairly penalized all
students by canceling the journalism class in retaliation against Evans for
blowing the whistle on his illegal conduct.”

Dan Shinoff, an attorney for the Fallbrook Union High School District, said
Principal Rod King felt the story on the wildfires was inaccurate and that the
faculty adviser authored the editorial on sex education.

The San Diego newspaper also reported that Shinoff has said the district's
decision to cancel the journalism program was directly related to state budget

Meanwhile, students at a Bay Area high school are decrying the
administration's decision to close the school newspaper as a form of

The Scots Express newspaper at Belmont's Carlmont High School was shut
down on Nov. 10.

The newspaper's editor, Alex Zhang, said administrators told him the
newspaper was canceled due to its inappropriate content. The first edition
included a satirical piece about a student's sexiness.

Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said
administrators violated California law if they closed the paper because of its

But Principal Andrea Jenoff insisted the newspaper was shut down because it's
missing a full-time adviser, and its first edition showed the student reporters
and editors needed more help.

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