Students at Calif. school battle principal to publish paper again

CALIFORNIA — Student editors at Novato High School’snewspaper, The Buzz, said their principal is deliberatelyholding up publication of an issue that was supposed to be printedlast month.

Stella Robertson, who is editor of the issue being reviewed,said she fears a controversial opinion article that incited studentprotests at the school in November could have a long-lasting impacton newspaper. She said principal Lisa Schwartz is delaying publicationof the paper in the interest of protecting herself and the school’simage.

The Buzz ran a commentary on Nov. 13 by senior AndrewSmith that was critical of illegal immigrants. After the articleran, administrators confiscated the paper. Since then, studentshave faced a daunting task of having their next issued approved.Robertson said the delay is not warranted.

"We put together an entire edition, and after we had shown[Schwartz] the paper numerous times, it was ridiculous what theywere trying to do to stop us from publishing," Robertsonsaid. "I think it’s a little out of control how she’s tryingto censor our paper."

In the course of the last month, Robertson said, students havegiven Schwartz three copies to review after she has correctedspelling and grammar errors, edited content and deleted storiesand a political cartoon.

Schwartz did not return a call placed to her office by theReport.

Publication has not always been this difficult for editorsof The Buzz. After Smith’s commentary, though, things tooka turn for the worse.

In his article, Smith wrote, "There should be no tolerancefor anyone to be an illegal immigrant. If you can’t comply withour requirements then stay out of our country."

A day after the paper was distributed, some students walkedout of class and demanded answers from Schwartz. The school helda forum on Nov. 14 to answer questions about the article, at whichtime Schwartz said she erred in allowing the commentary to beincluded, the Marin Independent Journal reported.

Schwartz said she did not censor the Nov. 13 issue becauseof provisions in section 48907 of the California Education Code,which prohibits administrative censorship in most cases. At theforum, however, she apologized and said she should have pulledthe article.

"What I learned after the distribution of the paper wasif students write what could be inflammatory or result in thedisruption of a school day, then I would have authority to preventpublication," Schwartz told the Marin Independent Journal.

Robertson said she has tried to argue — to no avail — thatCalifornia law does not permit Schwartz from preventing the paperto publish. Robertson said she plans to keep fighting and is hopefulthe issue will be approved soon.

Read section 48907 of the California Education Code.