Principal threatens underground editors

Students reach compromise with school officials, allow principal to review paper

KANSAS -- School officials and two Lawrence High School seniors with a bent for satire reached a compromise that will allow the boys to keep publishing their underground newspaper -- but only with their principal reviewing it first.

Co-editors Lee Dunfield and Brad Quellhorst said they could live with the September deal, which requires them to submit proposed editions of Low Budget to principal Mike Patterson for approval. Additionally, they must restrict circulation to after-school hours.

"Many have expressed their objection to our agreement, [but] I think it is fair for him to do this," Dunfield said.

Quellhorst took stronger exception to the deal but accepted it nonetheless.

"By the very nature of the word, a compromise isn't going to completely satisfy everyone," he said. "I'm not happy about having to wait until after school, and I certainly don't agree with the prior review concept.

"Prior review should not be a requirement for us as an underground paper."

The boys have now distributed three more issues of Low Budget to their schoolmates since the debut edition drew a ban from Patterson, who called the honor students' work "disruptive to school." The paper is intended as a parody of the school's official student newspaper, The Budget.

Since the agreement, both students say their work has gone off without any major problems. The only negative feedback, they said, is from the student editors of The Budget.

The compromise came after a swarm of public and media attention and a series of meetings involving the students, their parents and school officials. Officially, there was no disciplinary action taken against the students, though their parents "voluntarily" took them out of school for a few days.

"Officially, our parents 'chose' to remove us from school," Quellhorst said. "In reality, if they chose not to, we would have been suspended.

"In essence, our parents had no say in the matter."

Patterson did not return numerous phone calls made by the Report.

Patterson told the Associated Press, however, he imposed the ban only because Low Budget was not approved, denying that content played any role in his decision. He later told its authors they should submit their work to the school's official student newspaper.

Patterson said the new policy should not be interpreted as an effort to censor or squelch free expression, though he did cut two articles from the proposed second edition. The student editors complied with Patterson

Low Budget is available online at:

reports, Winter 2000-01