Middle school editor challenges policy
MICHIGAN — Sometimes the news is not fit to print, according to officials at Otsego Middle School. Administrators killed a story in the Bulldog Express about a shoplifting incident that had occurred during a school trip to Bittersweet Ski Resort. It was not censorship, according to Superintendent James Leyndyke, but rather a chance for the school to put its “best foot forward.”
Haley Pierson’s story about the incident was pulled before publication. Dan Vagasky, student editor for the Bulldog Express, considers the incident a clear violation of free press rights, and says the news story did not meet the criteria for censorship as provided by the Hazelwood ruling.
“Now they’re drafting new guidelines to regulate all of the student media, including the Bulldog,” said Shaun Murphy, Vagasky’s attorney.
Diana Stampfler is the faculty adviser for the paper and is also the school’s public relations officer.
“The school isn’t real happy with her role in this, because she is being somewhat supportive of the students now,” Murphy said.
Stampfler said she is refraining from public comment, but has stated in writing that she disagrees with Leyndyke’s decision. “While I will not actively encourage students in their ‘fight’ against the administration, I cannot make any efforts to discourage them either,” Stampfler wrote in a letter to Leyndyke.
As the Report went to press, the students were considering a lawsuit.
reports, Spring 1997