Washington student editors suing school district take their paper underground

TheKodak, a student newspaper in Everett, Wash., finally saw the light of dayearlier this month, with a slightly new image.

The newspaper, whichhas not been printed since November, emerged as an underground paper called theIndependent Kodak. Two student editors distributed the paper after school as themost recent move in a battle-turned-lawsuit pitting the newspaper staff againstadministrators who want the students to remove a statement saying the paper is astudent forum.

Co-editors Sarah Eccleston and Claire Lueneburgdistributed their newspaper on the sidewalk outside the school after-hours andencountered no opposition from administrators. The paper looked virtuallyidentical to the school newspaper, complete with the masthead declaring thepaper a student forum. In the Independent Kodak, the words “studentforum” are in boldface type.

The 8-page paper cost $270 toprint, most of which was donated by Jim Patten, a retired reporter andjournalism professor. Patten was head of the journalism department at theUniversity of Arizona until 2002.

“It struck me as beinganother in a much too long line of situations where administrators, instead ofbeing proud of journalism students, they come down all over them,” Pattensaid. “They should be saying ‘We don’t agree, but we’reproud they think for themselves.’”

Patten purchased a$250 ad featuring the text of the First Amendment to run in the firstissue.

Eccleston and Lueneburg plan to keep the Independent Kodakcoming out every month, even if it means reaching into their pockets, and theirparents’, for funding.

The students sued the Everett schooldistrict in mid-December, saying the district violated their free speech rightswhen the high school’s new principal required them to submit the studentnewspaper for prior review before distribution.

The student’slawyer, Mitch Cogdill, said Principal Catherine Matthews demanded prior review“immediately” after a story ran in the Kodak saying she was thethird choice of students on the hiring committee.

DistrictSpokeswoman, Gay Campbell has denied that claim and said, “There is no waythat this has anything to do with some vindictive action against thestudents.”