Copies of the student newspaper blocked from circulation last month at Mesa’s Fremont Junior High School have been destroyed — a move that infuriates journalism students who were battling for release of the newspaper.
"They did it before we could have any say," said freshman journalism student Sarah Smoyer, 15.
Earlier this month, Smoyer and other members of the newspaper staff announced plans to petition district administrators and then the Mesa Unified School District governing board, if necessary, for eventual release of the January edition.
Smoyer said the staff wrote letters last week to Superintendent Debra Duvall and assistant superintendent Linda Rottman asking for release of the newspaper. "But that was before we found out all the papers were destroyed," Smoyer said.
Rottman said she had not received any letters from the Fremont students as of Thursday.
Fremont principal Dwayne Priester blocked circulation of the newspaper last month over concerns that an opinion column might stir racial tension on campus. Priester did not return calls for comment.
District policy allows principals to exercise editorial control over school newspapers for reasons "reasonably related to legitimate educational concerns." The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld such policies.
Rottman said the opinion column in question — which accused the school of unequal enforcement of the school’s ban on bandannas — "lacked balance, factual information and was potentially divisive."
She said the newspaper also included four copyrighted mazes that were reproduced without permission, and the adviser failed to follow editing procedures.
Rottman said the school plans to fund an expanded edition of the newspaper later this year that includes many of the discarded articles.
Despite that gesture, Fremont’s journalism students said they will follow through on their plans to complain to the governing board.
Text of original article
The following opinion column was published in the Fremont Junior High School student newspaper under the headline "Bandannas at Fremont?" The story included a photograph of a bandanna with the caption: "Why are some people allowed and others not?"
Bandannas are one of the hottest things around! Even though you can’t wear them to school . . . or can you? Have you ever seen anybody wear them at Fremont? Well I have, and if you go to the nurses’ office you can see on the wall, bandannas are not allowed! Then why are they not getting dress-coded? Well of course bandannas can be related to gangs, but no offence, Caucasian people can and are wearing them. If a Hispanic person wears one he/she will get dress coded! Now is that fair? Oh, and if a Caucasian person hangs out with Hispanics they get dress coded! Would it really hurt to let us wear bandannas? Who is going to have a gang with pink (bandanas) or one with flowers and doggies on them. Or if we can’t, then no one should get to, Caucasian (or) not!