Principal stops distribution of Florida student paper over

The principal of Palm Coast High School canceled the distribution of the student newspaper in early February because of a column that criticized teachers and administrators at the school.

Principal Larry Hungsinger demanded that students stop distributing the Feb. 9 issue of Paw Prints, calling Jennifer Sciallo’s article criticizing school district employees who had recently been arrested “disruptive to the school.”

“We don’t feel that it’s right because we should be able to have a columnist write her feelings on what’s going on,” said Jamie Rose, advertising editor of Paw Prints. “If [anyone] had a problem with it they could’ve written back in regard to it.”

According to Rose, the article did not mention any teachers’ names. Instead, it referred to the titles used by local newspapers that had previously covered the incidents.

Before the controversial issue was published, assistant principal Neil McCoppin reviewed the content of the newspaper and approved it for publication. Hungsinger, however, stopped distribution of the paper after receiving complaints from teachers. After meeting with the newspaper adviser, the students agreed to stop distributing the remaining 200 copies and write a retraction.

“I think a lot of teachers took it as being overly degrading to the school and took personal offense to it,” said Jeremy Vandervliet, first-year Paw Prints adviser.

“They expect fluff in student newspapers, not real stuff,” he added.

According to Hungsinger, the article caused havoc and frustration among teachers.

“My responsibility here is to make sure that everything runs smoothly and orderly,” Hungsinger said. “The actual article was allowed to be printed, and as a result of that, numerous individuals came to me very distraught. I felt at that point in time the article needed to be curtailed.”

The students have sent e-mails to two local newspapers with the hopes they will be interested in covering the story. In addition, they have put together a parent-student support group that includes some Palm Coast teachers.