Thursday, March 29, 2007

Another example of press restriction, this time in Indiana

As we await word on the fate of House Bill 1307, the Student Free Press Bill, it's worth noting one of the more egregious examples of abuse of principal power in recent memory -- one that continues to have fallout more than a month after it happened.

It all started with an editorial at Woodlan Junior-Senior High School in Woodburn, Ind., that called for tolerance towards gays and lesbians. The principal said the material was not suitable for some members of the school (which serves grades 7-12), and after publication of the paper instituted a policy of absolute prior review, where he would review everything before it went to press.

Additionally, he sent a letter of reprimand to the adviser, who he says was supposed to bring any articles to him that might potentially be controversial before the paper goes to press. She since has been put on paid leave by the school board, which strangely also refuses to hear any public commentary on any aspect of the issue.

Some experts have weighed in, saying the principal was well within his Hazelwood rights to do what he did. It's worth noting that under House Bill 1307, none of this could happen to either the students or the adviser.

Here are some of the opinion pieces that have come out in the wake of this whole mess. In the interest of balance, I would include a piece defending the principal -- but I can't find any.

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