Editors win fight to keep free-press guidelines


Students have less success in actually publishing paper





NEW YORK -- Despite their victory over administrators in retaining the free-press guidelines the newspaper has operated under for 30 years, the editors of the student newspaper at Freeport High School say they are still waiting to publish their first issue.

"We've kind of won the battle but lost the war," said Flashings news editor Michael Leonard. "I think the administration's goal was to not have any criticism of them put out during the year, and that's pretty much what's been done. In the end, what they wanted to accomplish was accomplished, but we're going to try to do the best we can."

In September, before the newspaper's first meeting of the school year, the new principal of Freeport High School told the editors of Flashings that the newspaper's free-press guidelines had been scrapped and that its longtime adviser had been removed. Administrators planned to hire a new adviser to oversee the newspaper and wanted to adopt a new policy that would transfer control of the formerly student-run paper to administrators.

The newspaper staff fought the implementation of the new policy. Editors contacted the New York Civil Liberties Union and the news media, distributed fliers around their town and created a Web site describing their situation. The school board ultimately decided not to adopt the restrictive new policy. Instead, in December the school board adopted a new set of free-press guidelines very similar to the original ones.

But the year's first issue of Flashings has yet to be published.

Leonard said administrators have been slow to hire a new adviser, even though former adviser Ira Schildkraut is the only teacher who has applied for the job. Currently, the district coordinator for English instruction is serving as interim adviser of the newspaper.

Leonard said he and the other students on the editorial board hope to publish two "hard-hitting" issues of Flashings before the school year ends in June and three of the four editors graduate.

Leonard, a senior, said he is worried about the survival of the free-press guidelines he and the other editors fought so hard for once he is gone.

"I think that's what we're most disgusted about," Leonard said, "that this whole thing has just been washed away and gone by the wayside."


reports, Spring 2000