The Seattle Times' Opinion on "Public Forum" Student Papers

"But we say again it is a risky thing to give legal control of a high-school newspaper to students."

Seattle Times Editorial

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why Aren't the Dexter School System Bylaws Being Enforced?

The Dexter Community Schools' Bylaws state that "In sponsoring a student publication or production, the Board is mindful of the fact that the publication could be available to any student attending the school, and must, therefore, generally be suitable for all students"

and that "The Board reserves the right to ... prohibit the distribution of publications and productions which ... contain obscenity or materials otherwise deemed to be harmful to impressionable students who may receive them." Bylaws, at section 5722.

"Does the principal have the right to run the paper as a public forum where anything the students want to say must be allowed even though this violates school board policy?"

The newspaper contains jokes about the statutory rape of freshmen and being "wasted" at school dances. And the most recent issue has photos of the actual banned "dance" move being performed by students.

By not reading the paper until after it is published the principal believes he has washed his hands of responsibility. He says the Squall is not the Dexter High School Paper. It is an independent public forum where the students have complete freedom to say whatever they like. He does have responsibility for it whether he chooses to read it or not.

Mr. Satterthwaite edits for style and grammar occasionally, but never for content. Even though the school is not permitted to run a public forum style newspaper, that is what it is doing.

Please email the board of education and let them know if you do not want to see the DHS paper used as a public forum. The board of education has the power to require supervision and age appropriate content. Just ask them to.


Anonymous said...

It was hard to read the "5X5" article that focused on "gingers" (fair skinned red-headed people) and not feel as if they were being singled out or even bullied by the author, as I have read other articles that specifically call them this name in a derogatory sense. If this article had been someone who was black, latino, asian or middle eastern descent and the author was making fun of them, I don't think it would be taken lightly by the NAACP or any other group, and there would be consequences. What about mutual respect? Doesn't the school think it is important to show students how to respect other students? What happened to respecting people, even if they are different than you? I have heard of kids who get so upset by comments like these that they choose suicide. Is this really appropriate literature from our school system funded by taxpayer dollars?

Also, the pictures from the Crome are so belittling towards women. How can any honest journalist (and advisor) pretend to think this is actually good journalism to write about a dance spot that degrades women? It sends a message that girls are just play things for teenage boys. What happened to building self-respect for young women? What happened to looking at young women as intelligent, smart people? Why is the school newspaper promoting this? Again, this is supported by taxpayer dollars. I am sickened that a high school who spends close to $7,000 per student can't find enough backbone and funding to produce quality journalism pieces. This is such a waste of my money!

Kelly said...

There are some good articles in the school news paper. I think it is important to have a school newspaper and give the students this learning experience.

But there are articles that are inappropriate for this age group. Those are the articles that by law should not be printed using school funds and distributed at the school in the school paper. They are giving the whole paper a bad name. That is unfortunate to those students who obviously have talent as journalists. This has been handled very irresponsibly by the school.

Anonymous said...

I'm not trying to disagree with any one of you, but just so you know the students who participate in the 5x5 are asked if they'd like to, no one is forced. Its truly all in good fun.