School board sues New York Commissioner
Seek to overturn ruling in favor of student editor of underground newspaper
NEW YORK — A case of high school censorship has gone before the second highest court in the state of New York.
The Monticello Central School Board of Education is suing the Commissioner of Education of New York, Richard Mills, to overturn the commissioner’s ruling that a Monticello High School senior had not been afforded due process when school officials decided to suspended the student after he published an underground newspaper in January of 1995 that urged students to “wear your Pot, Acid, Alcohol and Revolution T-shirts.”
Mills ruled in favor of student Josh Herzog in November of 1995. At the request of school officials, police entered his home to search for evidence of his crime. Herzog was also charged with “inciting a riot.” The charges against Herzog were later dropped. Herzog and his parents filed a civil suit against the school and the police department in 1995, which is set to go to trial in January.
According to Herzog’s attorney, Mark Schulman, the school board denied Herzog’s appeal of his suspension without ever considering the appeal’s contents. Schulman said that members of the school board admitted under oath that they had not even read Herzog’s appeal of the suspension. Further, Schulman said that both the school board and police officials violated Herzog’s right to due process when they entered the Herzog family’s home and seized computer disks containing information about the newspaper.
Schulman said the disciplinary case was argued before the state Supreme Court, Appellate Division, in October. He said the school has spent close to $45,000 on the case, without giving any thought to its own actions.
“I don’t think anyone is proud of Josh’s misspellings or grammatical errors, but that they should be angry his rights [were found violated] is ridiculous” said Schulman.
The attorney for the school, Henri Shawn, declined to comment on the appeal.
reports, Winter 1996-97