[I’m] “not sure why this is a news story.”
– duPont Manual High School principal Larry Wooldridge
Hmm… you be the judge:
In March, police arrested a popular science teacher at Kentucky’s duPont Manual High School after she was found partially undressed in a car with a 17-year-old boy. According to police, there was also evidence of beer consumption and contraceptive use. The teacher was charged with engaging in an unlawful transaction with a minor, a misdemeanor, and resigned. Prosecutors say they are still reviewing the case to determine whether additional criminal charges will be filed.
When student reporter Charley Nold tried to write a straightforward one-paragraph news brief (apparently an account similar to the single paragraph above) for the school’s online student publication, the DMHS Manual RedEye, school principal Larry Wooldridge censored it.
Wooldridge also rejected a follow-up story written by Nold and a classmate, which included a list of warning signs for students about being exploited. In fact, to date not a single word written by students about the incident has made its way into the Manual RedEye.
Of course, as is almost always the case in censorship incidents like this, the real reason for killing the story had nothing to do with whether or not the incident was “news” but whether it was news that Woolridge and Jefferson County Public School officials — whose spokesperson has said Wooldridge acted appropriately in spiking the story and substituting his own sanitized statement in its place — wanted told.
That is something much, much different. And much less defensible, legally — and educationally.
In any event, if the teacher misconduct story wasn’t “newsy” enough before, the school district’s censorship has likely given it the extra boost it will need to be picked up by news media around the country, starting with a lengthy account in the Louisville Courier-Journal.