Ind. adviser fired after yearbook's pregnancy section sparks controversy

INDIANA -- The C. A. Beard Memorial School Corporation officially fired the Knightstown High School yearbook and newspaper adviser last week following controversy over including a section in the yearbook about pregnant students.

But Principal Scott Ritchie said the incident was only one of several things that led to the firing of K.C. Salter, who has been the yearbook adviser at Knightstown for nine years.

Ritchie said that a pregnant student was upset that a yearbook staff member had come into a classroom to take a picture of her. The staffer also told the pregnant student that she needed the name of the baby's father so she could get a picture of him too, he said.

But Salter said the situation, which happened about three months ago, has been exaggerated and the staff was not trying to embarrass anyone or match up mothers and fathers. He said nothing specific was planned yet and the reporter was only trying to find other students to talk to and photograph.

"I would never go that direction," he said. "That would be irresponsible of an adviser to even suggest that."

Yearbook staffers had the idea to cover the school's pregnancy problem and had only started brainstorming ideas, Salter said. He took responsibility for the staffer's actions.

"I thought I was clear with the student, and she was a little overzealous," he said.

Ritchie said he was fine with the students covering the school's teen pregnancy problem, but was concerned about how the staff member demonstrated a lack of training in handling the situation.

"They did a pregnancy piece in our newspaper earlier this year," he said. "It was very well done and well written."

The yearbook incident was not the only reason Salter was fired, Ritchie said. He cited poor performance with classroom management, discipline and quality, but declined to comment further publicly. Declining quality of the yearbook and newspaper was part of that, he said.

"This is one small piece of the puzzle that got us here," Ritchie said, referring to the yearbook controversy. "If this is all we had, I don't know if we would be to this point right now."

Salter acknowledged that the quality of the yearbook and newspaper was not up to what the administration wanted. But he said after Ritchie asked him to restart the newspaper two years ago, he felt he had inadequate time and resources to do both.

The district has started looking for a replacement for next year but has allowed Salter to stay for the rest of the school year, Ritchie said.

Salter said he plans to challenge his firing because he does not think the district followed proper procedures leading up to last week's decision.

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