High school students fight to restore uncensored newspaper

New principal suspends publication, erases 30-year-old free-press guidelines

NEW YORK - On Sept. 21--the day of their first staff meeting of the school year--the editors of Freeport High School's student newspaper learned that their longtime adviser had been fired, the free-press guidelines the newspaper had operated under for 30 years were gone and the newspaper itself had been eliminated.

"It was fairly surprising," said Adam Gaffney, editor of Flashings."Originally, our adviser told us to start working on Flashings.We had signs up in the school, and we made announcements for the first staff meeting. Then, the day of the first meeting, the adviser was told that he would no longer be the adviser, and therefore, the meeting that day had to be canceled."

Gaffney said that interim principal Lottie Taylor-Northover did not give the newspaper staff a reason for halting the newspaper.

According to Gaffney, Taylor-Northover said Flashingswould be replaced by another publication. But she told him that the new publication would not be governed by the guidelines that had given students complete editorial control over the newspaper since 1969.

The staff of Flashingsand members of the community had planned to discuss their concerns over the fate of Flashingsat a school board meeting Oct. 20. But officials canceled the regularly scheduled meeting, saying there would not be enough school board members present to hold it. The meeting has not been rescheduled.

The Flashingsstaff has tried to draw attention to their newspaper's plight by talking to school board members, administrators and the PTA. Staff members also created a Web site detailing their situation.

Gaffney said the staff's primary concern is to regain an uncensored student newspaper.

"Students have a voice in [ Flashings]," Gaffney said. "Without a free press, students are left without any kind of forum. It gives a chance for students to give their opinion on what's going on."  

Flashings, Freeport High School, New York, news