Students claim Calif. principal dropped newspaper because of cheerleader drinking story

FourSimi Valley High School students are spearheading a campaign to bring back theirschool’s newspaper after it was dropped – a decision they say was made by theprincipal because of a controversial article she attempted tocensor. 

Now seniors Samantha Siegel, William Hillstrom, MarissaLussier and Randi Pealer are trying to turn the newspaper into an on-campusclub.

“The newspaper meant a lot to all of us,” said Siegel, a formerstaff member at the school’s newspaper, The Voice. “If it hadn’t beenfor the last [edition], I think there would still be apaper.”  

The controversy with the school principal began lastspring when the newspaper reported that some cheerleaders from the Simi Valley,Calif., school were disqualified from a national competition at Disneyland afterthey were caught drinking alcohol in a hotel room.

Principal Jan Britzheard about the article before its publication and asked that the staff publishthe issue without it.

When staff members refused to withdraw the story,the two students who wrote the article were called to Britz’s office and toldthe paper would not go to press if the article remained, Hillstromsaid. 

Despite the principal’s protests, the newspaper published thearticle. In June, the administration informed the students that the newspaperclass would not be offered because of low enrollment.

Britz, who did notreturn phone calls or e-mails seeking comment for this story, told theVentura (Calif.) County Star that the newspaper class was cancelledbecause of low enrollment, not any particular article. She said she asked forthe cheerleading story not to run because she wanted to protect the teammembers’ privacy.

The students said they want to continue the newspaperbecause it not only provides them with an opportunity to gain valuableexperience, but it also offers them a forum to express issues that are importantto them.

“[A newspaper] gives the students a voice,” Hillstrom said. “It’s a wonderful way for the students to communicate with theadministration.”

SPLC View: Stories like this always make uswonder who is really the “educator”…