School demands Mo. student journalist turn over photos of campus event

MISSOURI — Kickapoo High School officials told a student toturn over photos from a school event that lead to the injury of another studentand have still not returned them.

“My personal photos that were demanded from me by our administration andschool district on September 1st, have still not been returned to mypossession. And I don’t know when they will be given back to me,”wrote Chase Snider, executive editor of PN Media, in an e-mail.

Mike Hiestand, consulting attorney for the Student Press Law Center, saidSnider took pictures of a “mosh event” on campus where a student wasinjured. Snider consulted with school administrators before publishing the photos in the print or online editions of the student newspaper, the PrairieNews, and was told not to publish them.

“The situation is disturbing,” Hiestand said. “Chase is justdoing what a journalist is supposed to do — cover news. And becauseit’s news the school doesn’t want, he got in trouble.”

After Snider was asked to hand over his photos of the event, he enlistedthe help of the SPLC and was referred to Patrick Doran, anattorney in Kansas City.

Doran wrote in an e-mail that his “hope is that any of Chase Snider’spersonal property that may be in the possession of the high school or schooldistrict will be returned to him and that reporters at the award-winning[Prairie News] can cover news stories, including breaking news, ofinterest to the Kickapoo community without undue interference from theadministration.”

Ransom Ellis III, the school district’s attorney, did not returnmessages for comment, but he confirmed to the Springfield News-Leaderthat school officials did ask Snider for the photos.

Ellis told the News-Leader that the district had a right to requestthe photos and they were reviewed out of privacy concerns and returned toKickapoo journalism teacher Leslie Orman.

Ellis told the News-Leader that none of the photos were deleted.

“When it’s obvious there might be a future problem, you want to getcomplete information,” he said.

Kickapoo High School principal David Schmitz could not be reached forcomment.