NORTH CAROLINA –A man students called an ”adviser extraordinaire” has been asked tostop volunteering with the student newspaper at Smith Middle School by anadministration that some suspect is still upset over an article the paperprinted.
In March, The Cyclone Scoop ran a story namingseveral students charged with assaulting a school bus driver. The administrationconfiscated the issue claiming it violated the school’s studentconfidentiality rules, according to anarticle inThe News and Observer.
Chris Roush, a journalism professor at the University of NorthCarolina at Chapel Hill, served as volunteer adviser for the student newspapersince 2004 and said he felt his dismissal was related to the confrontation overthe article.
”I was told through [Becky] Burke, the journalismteacher, that [Principal Valerie Reinhart] didn’t want anyone from UNCinvolved with the paper,” said Roush. ”What it boils down to is thatthe principal wants control of the paper, she wants to approve the stories inthe issues going forth.”
Reinhart did not return several callsfor comment, but was quoted in TheNews and Observer article saying, ”We need to be sure that the people involved with the publication are veryaware of the rules for public school officials.” She also told the localnewspaper she would review every issue before publication next year.
Stephanie Knott, a spokesperson for Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools, said the basis for terminating the relationship between the middle school and UNC had to do with content control.
Knott said the school cut ties with UNC because the school is ultimately responsible for what is printed in the student newspaper, not UNC, and those lines might have been blurred by the relationship.
”The school, in offering that class as part of its curriculum, remains in a position of liability and responsibly for its content,” she said.
Roush, whose son attends the school, said he printed offthe paper once a semester at UNC free of charge.
”He downloaded[the paper], he proofed it again and then ran it off. He even brought it backalready collated and stapled,” Burke said. ”Who does that type ofthing for anyone? You just don’t get that type of support from anybody,anywhere.”
Roush said he was disappointed that he could nolonger volunteer and hoped it would not affect students’ involvement withthe paper.
”One of the reasons I volunteered was because Iwanted to encourage young, middle school aged kids to get interested injournalism and get interested in writing,” he said. ”I’ve seena lot of interest in journalism, but I’m afraid with this incident, someof them might get turned off…that’s what bothersme.
”We had made some dramatic improvements in the content andthe look of the paper in the last two years, and I fear that progresswont’ continue.”
The students working at thepaper were upset to see Roush leave andsent a letter to Richard Cole, dean ofthe school of journalism and communication at UNC Chapel Hill, thanking theuniversity for supporting the paper as well as praising the work ofRoush.
The letter stated, ”No parent or community mentor hasever done more. [Roush] truly represents all that journalistic commitmentshould. He is an asset to the university, community and our school.” Burkeand the rest of the student staff signed the letter.
Burke said shewill look for help again next year, but was concerned how the ”increasedinvolvement of the administration,” would affect thenewspaper.