\nWISCONSIN – The Wisconsin Dells School Board expelled a\n16-year-old student in February for five years after distributing\nan underground newspaper on school grounds, which school officials\nfound offensive.
Student Joe Krahn, who is also the photo editor and reporter for\nthe official student newspaper, The Chieftain, received the punishment\nafter a 5-1 vote by the school board, banning him from high school\nuntil the age of 21, when the school district holds no obligation\nto provide him with an education.
Krahn’s newspaper, Difi (Defy misspelled), is two pages\nlong. Using a considerable amount of profanity, the paper attacks\nschool and city policies, such as a city-wide curfew, and reports\n”rumors” involving various administrators, teachers,\nathletes and other students at the school of misconduct, homosexuality\nor improper relations.
Word of Krahn’s punishment spread rapidly through the state of\nWisconsin where it was the lead topic on local radio shows as\nwell as front page news in many Wisconsin newspapers.
“His punishment is very disproportional to his alleged crime\nwhen you think about what his life opportunities are,” said\nChristopher Ahmuty, executive director of the American Civil Liberties\nUnion of Wisconsin, who said there are students bringing weapons\nto school whose punishments are not as severe.
Teachers and administrators have said they have had past disciplinary\nproblems with Krahn, although they say they are not allowed to\ndisclose specifics due to confidential student records. School\nboard member Gisela Hamm told the Madison newspaper, The Capital\nTimes, that the distribution of Difi “was the final\nstraw.”
Krahn has said that his disciplinary record includes offenses\nno more serious than chewing gum and the use of profanity.
The ACLU is negotiating with the school to get Krahn reinstated,\nand Krahn says he has contacted a lawyer. However, no complaint\nhas been filed yet.