Saturday, April 27, 2002

Principal threatens to shut critical paper

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — A high school principal is threatening to halt the May edition of the student newspaper after an editorial complained about the inconsistent discipline of students.

        “I have just told the sponsor that until further notice, the newspaper may not be publishing in May,” Tates Creek High School Principal Bob Gardner told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “I haven't made a final decision.”

        An editorial in the April edition of the Masthead complained about inconsistent discipline.

        Based on interviews with unidentified sources — including an athlete and a student office helper — the editorial argued that rules are bent for some students, such as athletes.

        Mr. Gardner said he found it unfair.

        “I understand it's an editorial and it's an opinion. But, I'm really not sure that some of their opinions were based on fact,” he said. “There was no effort to seek out the other side of the story.”

        Newspaper staffers stand by the editorial.

        “I think the administration is avoiding the issue rather than realizing we're giving them a tip here,” said senior Jim Lerza, the top student editor. “Countless teachers have said, "Now I'm really glad the (paper) said that.'”

        The newspaper is produced for a grade in a journalism class of 15 students. The paper is printed and sold about six times a year.

        The final edition, due out in May, is sentimental for students because it contains senior wills — messages written by seniors to friends and underclassmen. The seniors pay to have their messages published.

        Mr. Lerza said if Mr. Gardner decides to cancel the last edition, they'll have to refund $500 collected for senior wills.

        Mr. Gardner said he wants the writers to consider the consequences of what they publish.

        “Students don't understand how powerful the press is,” he said. “I'm hoping to use this is as a teachable moment.”


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