Fla. principal pulls student’s editorial critical of teacher’s extra-credit project

A Tampa high school student is pondering his next move after school district officials censored an editorial claiming that students were buying extra-credit in a chemistry class.

Student Brian Leon wrote an editorial in the Leto High School Legend in October criticizing an extra-credit project chemistry teacher Roohi Junejo had overseen in the fall. Junejo offered students a .01 percent grade increase and an American flag sticker for each $1 donation they made to an American Red Cross fund for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At least seven students made donations and Junejo raised $20 for the fund.

Leon claimed that students with borderline scores could improve their grades by donating money to the fund, something he said appalled him.

“Do you think that by doing this you’re looking out for the best interest of your students?” Leon wrote in the editorial.

Principal Daniel Bonilla pulled the editorial from the paper because he said it was inaccurate and threatened Leon with suspension if it was run.

District spokesman Mark Hart said that he and Bonilla reviewed Junejo’s grading system and found that “no one’s grade had been changed as a result of what she was doing.”

However, a March 15 article in the St. Petersburg Times said that one student claimed he raised his grade from a B to an A after buying five of the flags.