Wisconsin High School Student Suspended for 5 years for Underground Newspaper

A 16-year-old photo editor of the Wisconsin Dells High School newspaper was expelled from school for five years in February after distributing an underground newspaper on school grounds that officials found offensive.

The student, Joe Krahn, will also not be provided any alternative educational programs and is not able to reapply for admission to the district, school officials said.

Krahn, who is also the photo editor and a reporter for the high school’s official student newspaper, The Chieftain, received the punishment after a 5-1 vote by the school board, banning him from high school until the age of 21, when the school district holds no obligation to provide him with an education.

Word of Krahn’s punishment spread rapidly through the state of Wisconsin where it was the lead topic on local radio shows as well as front page news in many Wisconsin newspapers.

Teachers and administrators claim that they have had past disciplinary problems with Krahn, although they say they are not allowed to disclose specifics due to confidential student records. They have described the publication of the underground newspaper as “the last straw.”

Krahn has said that his disciplinary record includes offenses no more serious than chewing gum and the use of profanity.

Krahn’s newspaper, Difi (Defy misspelled), is two pages long. Using considerable profanity, the paper attacks school and city policies, such as a city-wide curfew, and reports “rumors” involving various administrators, teachers, athletes and other students at the school of misconduct, homosexuality or improper relations.