Blue Springs student reconsiders stance

\nMISSOURI – High school student Jon David was adamant about\ngetting his newspaper’s adviser back when she was fired last summer.

David and fellow students filed a federal class action lawsuit\nagainst the school district, claiming their First Amendment rights\nwere violated by the attempt to censor their newspaper, The\nJaguar Journal. They spoke to the media, praising Valerie\nHalas as an adviser and demanding her return.

“She taught us about real journalism,” David said\nin the March Teacher magazine. “She prepared us for\nthe real world.”

Last year, the administration at Blue Springs South High School,\njust outside of Kansas City, replaced Halas with an adviser that\nthe students alleged censored. Although Halas still taught English\nat the school, David and other staff wanted her back.

In Jon David et al. v. Board of Education, the students\nasked for at least $10,000 in damages. When a judge threw the\ncase out, the students vowed to appeal.

But now David (the other three students graduated this May)\nsays he is ready to give up the fight. “I’m going to be the\nonly one left to [appeal],” he said. He added that he is\nnow uncertain if Halas was fired because of an article the staff\nwrote identifying businesses that sold cigarettes to minors. “I\nthink [it may have been] something personal between her and the\nadministration,” he said, declining to offer any more information.

Though David has one more year left at Blue Springs, he has\nquit the newspaper. He said there is a new adviser who, he believes\nis not censoring the newspaper.

Dennis Littrell, director of secondary education and former\nsuperintendent for the school district, did not return a call\nfor comment.\n