Kansas teens to continue publishing underground paper

Friday, September 15, 2000

Two Kansas teens prohibited from attending classes after distributing
their alternative newspaper on campus will not press charges against the school
and are, according to one of the boys’ mothers, “trying to solve this

Nevertheless the fracas has not deterred the teens, Lee Dunfield and
Brad Quellhorst. The paper, Low Budget
— a satire of Lawrence High School’s official journal,
The Budget — will be published
again and could be allowed back on campus, says Patricia Graham, Lee Dunfield’s
mother. In the meantime, the first edition can be viewed at

Dunfield and Quellhorst first came under scrutiny on Aug. 31 after
handing out about 200 copies of the paper at school. The paper contains
satirical stories such as “Veteran’s Park Set on Fire to Discourage Smoking,”
“Pope Apologizes for All 2000 Years of Christian Persecution,” and “NYC Police
Arrest Man for Being Black.”

Contrary to earlier news reports, “the students were never suspended,
and all disciplinary action was taken by the parents,” said Mike Browning,
associate principal of Lawrence High School. Browning said the issue was not
the content of the underground paper, but the fact that the teens did not
receive permission to distribute their publication at school.

“This rule doesn’t just include publications but all materials, such
as T-shirts and the sort, distributed on campus,” he said. “All material must
first be approved by the administration before it can be distributed.”

In an earlier Associated Press report, Quellhorst said he believed the
school’s actions were “in direct violation of the First Amendment.”

And according to Mark Goodman, director of the Student Press Law
Center, he may be right. Goodman says that the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes Kansas, has never ruled on school
administrators’ right to “prior review.”

“If the school is claiming an objection based upon that” prior review,
that might indeed violate the First Amendment, Goodman said in an interview
The Freedom Forum Online.

Meanwhile the community has rallied around the students. Stories and
editorials have appeared in the Lawrence
as well as on a community
Web site.

The school board has also taken notice of the debate and, according to
Julie Boyle, a public relations coordinator for the school district, the board
could address the issue as early as Sept. 25, when the superintendent is
expected to submit a summary report.

Tags: , ,