Two students accuse school of censorship, quit paper

ARIZONA -- Two students at Basha High School in Chandler claimed censorship and resigned from their student newspaper last month, while school officials claimed that they had conducted business as usual.

Senior Ray Ceo, Jr., staff writer and columnist for The Grizzly Gazette, resigned citing frustration with the school's prior review policy, which he viewed as censorship. Natasha Karaczan, the student paper's managing editor, also resigned, according to an article in the Chandler Independent, a local newspaper. Karaczan would not comment for this story.

''The newspaper has always been previewed by the school administration prior to publication. They, the principal and/or the assistant principal, would many times make alterations to the newspaper,'' Ceo said. ''Sometimes it would be grammatical fixes and other times it would be the actual content of the newspaper.''

District policy allows administrators to exercise prior review of all student publications, according to an article in the Chandler Independent, a local paper.

''Student writers have written articles on many issues,'' Assistant Principal Nicolle Karantinos said in an e-mail. ''No article has been cut from the school newspaper.''

But the newspaper's adviser said administrators have cut articles before.

Liza Sejkora, The Gazette's faculty adviser, said content in the paper is edited during the review process for ''timeliness, vulgarity, privacy and writing quality.''

''Every issue of the newspaper has had prior review. It's the prerogative of the administration to cut articles,'' Sejkora said.

But articles that have received negative reaction from readers before have passed the administrative prior review process, she said.

''We had an article that was about being gay on a high school campus. I don't really view that as being something controversial, I just cite that instance because I was contacted by a number of parents who felt that was an inappropriate topic for a high school paper,'' Sejkora said. ''We've printed a lot of things, I don't know if the word controversial is necessarily it, but a lot of things that were objected to from various places, including administration.''

Ceo has served for three years as editor in chief of The Gazette, and in his senior year, he returned as a staff writer.

One of the articles that Ceo said was censored was a story he wrote about broken sinks in the girls' bathroom. Sejkora said the story was untimely and that the sinks had been fixed by the time the paper had an opportunity to print the story. Ceo said that the sinks were fixed but are broken again, according to his female friends.

''It [the sink story] was killed because the administration did not want an article that [portrayed] the school in a negative light...'' Ceo said. ''It could run today, and be just as timely as [when] it was written two months ago.''

Sejkora said she was not aware Ceo or Karaczan were concerned about censorship. She assumed the students had quit over personal issues with the editor in chief, she said.

''I do not censor the kids in any way, shape or form,'' Sejkora said. ''I let the kids pursue any article they want to and I tell them they need to pursue it with journalistic ethics.''

Ceo has a different view of the situation. He said he believes that the newspaper's content was censored to be more conservative and silence student opinions that were in opposition to those of administrators. He was asked by school officials to no longer write columns for the newspaper, he said.

''I have all intentions of becoming a columnist in the future, and to take this opportunity away from me due to the