Principal blocks anti-violence editorial





TEXAS — The principal at Copperas Cove High School stopped distribution of the November issue of The Blue Beacon because of an editorial urging students, “Don’t be fighting, be polite.” His reason? He didn’t want students portrayed in a negative light to the community.

The editorial criticized students for showing disrespect to teachers and to other students, citing incidents of fights in the school’s hallways and problems between students and faculty. Students were urged to improve their behavior at school. Approximately 200 of the papers were distributed before principal Mike Wilburn and other administrators confiscated the remaining 1,300 copies.

“The paper had never been censored before,” said Sheryle Bierschwale, the paper’s adviser. “This was my first year as adviser. To me, the editorial was applaudable. I couldn’t see what the problem was.”

Wilburn said the editorial exaggerated the problems and reflected badly on the school. According to district policy, the principal is considered the publisher of the paper because it is a classroom publication and has the final say in what is printed and distributed.

The paper was revised and republished at no cost to the students. In the December issue, the staff ran a front-page story about the censorship. Bierschwale said that the three staff members involved in the matter are no longer with the paper and one is no longer at the school, for what she said are unrelated reasons.

“We don’t have a specific policy protecting us, but it’s better now than it was before,” Bierschwale said. “The principal made a mistake, and now he’s learned, and we’ve all learned from this.”


reports, Spring 1997