High school students face punishment for speech

The author of a student newspaper column that resulted in an outbreak ofracial tension at Florida‘s Gulf Coast High School in Naples willno longer be permitted to have her byline published in the newspaper.

The school principal told Tiffany Thompson, co-editor of The GulfCoastline, in April that she will still be able to do layout work andco-write stories but will not be able to write any more articles herself.

The commentary Thompson wrote for the March issue, titled “Can I bebrutally honest: homie G the enemy,” criticized the rap music industryfor the role models it creates. Many minority students at the school feltthat Thompson was attacking them, although race was never mentioned inthe article.

Los Angeles school district officials announced a decision in Marchto transfer four California students to other schools because oftheir involvement with an underground newspaper.

The transferred students, along with seven others, were also suspendedfrom Palisades High School for their roles in creating an independent publication– produced with school computers and copy machines — that administratorsdenounced as emotionally damaging to the school’s teachers.

Administrators’ decision to ban the newspaper, titled OccasionalB.J., and suspend 11 of the estimated 40 students involved in its production,sparked a protest by Palisades students. Approximately 300 of the school’s2,500 students skipped morning classes on March 22 to attend a campus rallyheld in support of the newspaper and the students who created it.

Two Connecticut students suspended for asking to include thename of a popular rap group in their yearbook settled a six-year lawsuitagainst the school district in March after the district agreed to pay each$10,000 and erase the punishment from their records..

The Thomaston High School seniors, Daniel Reilly and Robert Scanlon,submitted a list of their personal memories to be printed in the yearbook,according to the school’s procedure. They included the name of a rap album,”EFIL4ZAGGIN” — “Niggaz4Life” spelled backwards — by the group N.W.A.,in their memory lists. The principal suspended both of them for submittingan “inappropriate request.”

Two Nebraska high schools banned further distribution of theAlphaClarion, a satirical newspaper created by students, after an assistantprincipal confiscated the second issue in February.

The paper was created as a humorous alternative to the official schoolnewspaper of Southeast High School in Lincoln, and two issues were distributedat both Southeast High School and Lincoln High School. The assistant principalof Lincoln High School said he banned the newspaper because of its vulgarlanguage.

Student editors of the Alpha Clarion say they plan to publisha third edition this spring.

In Indiana, the last of 15 Greenwood High School students andone former Greenwood student accused of vandalizing a student journalist’scar were sentenced in February.

The vandals received varying sentences, including 16 to 80 hours ofcommunity service, probation, a requirement to write a letter of apologyand a stipulation that they avoid any harassing contact with the victimof the crime, said Wade Wallace, deputy prosecutor for Johnson County.

The vandals were also required to pay restitution to the victim fordamages to his vehicle. Each will pay $186.77.

A Missouri high school student who sued her school district andformer principal last year for refusing to allow her to pass out religiousliterature at school reached a settlement with the district in February.

The settlement will allow Crystal Patterson to hand out “Truth for YouthBibles” during non-instructional times in the Northwest Valley School District.