Minn. school punishes students for underground publication

MINNESOTA — Five eighth-grade students who were punishedfor creating an underground ‘zine are planning to file a lawsuitagainst Ogilvie Public Schools.

Administrators took issue with some contents of the publicationafter two students complained, said Chuck Samuelson, executivedirector of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union. The magazinecontained statements criticizing the two students — one for disruptivebehavior in choir class and another for poor play on the volleyballteam.

The publication also included a poll for students to choosetheir favorite "hottie" eighth-grade boy, in which thefirst names of 11 boys were used and a space was provided to write in other choices. According to an article inthe Minneapolis Star Tribune, the school has cited thepoll, along with other content, as violations of the district’ssexual harassment policy. The publication also poked fun at blondesand included a number of short quotes.

One quote, "A man is a king, a king is a ruler, a ruler is 12 inches, Still think your [sic] a man??" drew the attention of school officials. But Cheryl Braddock, a parent of one the girls who was punished, said the quote was so obscure that administrators interpreted it differently than the students had intended.

About 20 copies of the publication were distributed in September.

The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union has agreed to representthe students, who are 13 years old. Samuelson said the lawsuitwould focus on the school’s censorship of the publication anda lack of due process after the punishments were handed down.

After administrators confiscated the magazine, the girls werenot allowed to participate in two weeks of volleyball games andthey could not act in the opening night of the school play. Priorto the punishment, the students apologized for their actions,Samuelson said.

Samuelson saidhe is in consultation with attorneys in Minnesota to find representationfor the girls and their parents.