NEW YORK – On Sept. 21–the day of their first staffmeeting of the school year–the editors of Freeport High School’sstudent newspaper learned that their longtime adviser had beenfired, the free-press guidelines the newspaper had operated underfor 30 years were gone and the newspaper itself had been eliminated.
“It was fairly surprising,” said Adam Gaffney, editorof Flashings.“Originally, our adviser told us to startworking on Flashings.We had signs up in the school, andwe made announcements for the first staff meeting. Then, the dayof the first meeting, the adviser was told that he would no longerbe the adviser, and therefore, the meeting that day had to becanceled.”
Gaffney said that interim principal Lottie Taylor-Northoverdid not give the newspaper staff a reason for halting the newspaper.
According to Gaffney, Taylor-Northover said Flashingswouldbe replaced by another publication. But she told him that thenew publication would not be governed by the guidelines that hadgiven students complete editorial control over the newspaper since1969.
The staff of Flashingsand members of the community hadplanned to discuss their concerns over the fate of Flashingsata school board meeting Oct. 20. But officials canceled the regularlyscheduled meeting, saying there would not be enough school boardmembers present to hold it. The meeting has not been rescheduled.
The Flashingsstaff has tried to draw attention to theirnewspaper’s plight by talking to school board members, administratorsand the PTA. Staff members also created a Website detailing their situation.
Gaffney said the staff’s primary concern is to regain an uncensoredstudent newspaper.
“Students have a voice in [ Flashings],” Gaffneysaid. “Without a free press, students are left without anykind of forum. It gives a chance for students to give their opinionon what’s going on.”