Prior review policy threatened after student writes editorial

MICHIGAN — Students at Anchor Bay High School in New Baltimore got a harsh warning on what their school administrators find objectionable when the student-produced newspaper, Anchor Bay Times, was hastily sentenced to prior review after administrative complaints that an editorial was unfair and contained errors.

At issue is an editorial that 16-year-old student journalist Misha Charles wrote in December criticizing the school’s decision to repair the gymnasium during the girls’ basketball season and questioned whether the work would have been done during the boys’ basketball season.

Principal Steven Lutz disagreed that the pre-publication review amounted to censorship.

“As instuctors, we want the students to hold themselves to journalistic standards and produce articles that are fair and balanced,” Lutz said.

“Her editorial was very educated,” said Chris LaMillza, the Times adviser. Charles included rationale as to how the school could have saved more money by waiting to repair the gym floor after girls basketball season and included improvements in girls’athletics. “She was very informed,” LaMillza said.

LaMillza added that the school is typical of any other school where girls are not treated as equal as boys concerning athletics. “The article caused a lot of griping,” LaMillza said. “Yet, no one would write a rebuttal.”

The school and the newspaper staff met together to come up with a concrete editorial policy that clarifies the students’ and the school’s rights.

“This has been a positive experience because all sides are having to come together and set rules,” LaMillza said.

Currently, the school, student paper and board of education have implemented a “wait and see” policy for six months. The prior review policy has been placed on hold until needed. The administrators agreed that since this was the first time a problem has surfaced perhaps they reacted too hastily.