Principal destroys entire issue of student newspaper because of ‘alarmist’ content

ILLINOIS — An award-winning high school newspaper’slatest issue on school violence was intended to provoke discussion,but the principal destroyed every copy before they could be distributed,calling its content "alarmist."

The April 20 issue of Hinsdale Central High School’s studentnewspaper, The Devils’ Advocate, contained a feature storyentitled "Scared of School" that included opinions fromstudents and parents on the school’s safety and the security measuresthe school has taken, as well as an editorial urging studentsto take responsibility for their school’s safety.

But Hinsdale students never saw the issue because principalJim Ferguson confiscated and destroyed the entire issue. Fergusontold the local newspaper, The Doings, that he had alreadymet with editors twice "to reduce the alarmist nature ofthe package," but the student editorial board voted unanimouslyagainst changing the issue’s content.

The board issued a statement saying that censorship will onlyexacerbate the problem of violence in schools.

"By not discussion difficult topics, the school only suppressesstudents’ thoughts and feelings, making the atmosphere even lesstolerant," the statement said. "If we had any reservationsabout the content of our work or thought that it would endangerstudents in the school, we would not have run the story."

The students have published the issue on a Web site independentof the school, and Ferguson has said he will not attempt to interferewith the site.

The April 20 issue of The Devils