Administrator bans criticism in paper after editorial attack on cafeteria food

WASHINGTON — After receiving complaints from cafeteria workersover a student newspaper commentary that called school lunches “gross,”the principal of Whitman Middle School in Seattle prohibited the publicationof anything in The Source “that is critical of or might be construedas critical of any Whitman staff member or program.”

“It is important that our staff works as a team and that concept isjeopardized if we are publicly critical of each other or allow studentsto publicly criticize staff members, especially in print,” principal JaneLambert said in a memo.

But newspaper adviser Maggie Everett called the principal’s directivecensorship. She said her students are upset about the ban.

“They think they have the right to point things out, to report aboutthings that somebody might construe as critical,” Everett said.

The controversial article criticized cafeteria food, calling schoollunches “not healthy.”

A letter from the cafeteria workers’ union complaining about the articleprompted Lambert to issue the memo banning criticism of school staff andprograms from the pages of The Source.

Everett said students are trying to change the policy.

“I’ve never had a class be so interested in the [textbook] chapter onrights and responsibilities,” she said.