Ill. h.s. school officials plan to distribute censored student newspaper weeks late

ILLINOIS — School officials plan to distribute copies of the April issue of the Collinsville High School Kahoki on Friday, weeks after the student newspaper’s distribution was held up by the principal, who had concerns the content would be “disruptive.”

Principal Daryl Floit delayed the release of the Kahoki until the last day of school because its March issue contained a top 10 list by editor Sarah Lawrence criticizing the school’s guidance and math departments. The April issue contains two pages of letters to the editor that agree and disagree with Lawrence’s stance, she said.

After the release of the March issue, Floit required the students to submit the pages to him before they went to press, Lawrence said. Floit did not return calls for comment.

Lawrence and other Kahoki staffers protested the delay at a May 2 school board meeting, but the decision stood. The next day, the students began assembling an independent publication, The Tunnel, which was distributed May 11. The paper, which contains another commentary by Lawrence and the letters to the editors that are at the heart of the controversy, was subtitled: What Floit Won’t Let You Read.

“We decided that we wanted these articles to run, we wanted them to run in a timely manner and we wanted them to run when they could have influence still,” Lawrence said. “Because if you give them to [students] on the last day of school, they’re going to shove them in their backpacks, take them home and nothing’s ever going to be read … and our writing will have no impact.”

The delay of the school-sponsored student newspaper is the first confrontation between the newspaper and the administration since Lawrence joined the paper four years ago, she said.

Next year’s editors said they are unsure if the paper will be able to continue in its current form as a journalism class. Adviser Dawn Lewis submitted her resignation on May 4, although she will remain at the school as an English teacher, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.

I think the paper will have less meaning because I know the new sponsor is going to be hesitant to print anything that might be considered controversial,” said incoming co-editor Kurt Simpson.

By Campbell Roth