Adviser for The Matador placed on indefinite administrative leave

CALIFORNIA — The student media adviser who oversaw the embattled The Matador student newspaper at San Gabriel High School has been placed on administrative leave indefinitely, the latest turn of events in the paper’s censorship saga.

The adviser, Jennifer Kim, has been told not to speak to her students and has been prohibited from coming on campus without an escort, according to the Pasadena Star-News. The Alhambra Unified School District is conducting an investigation into her conduct.

According to the Star-News, Kim was placed on leave in August after she had an “encounter” with the school’s new principal, Debbie Stone, at a student-run yearbook camp. Kim told the paper she was enforcing California Education Code 48907 to protect student journalists and their advisers, but declined to go into detail about the incident. The district is not commenting on the issue.

Stone has replaced Jim Schofield as principal. Schofield, who became the district’s director of English language development in July, was accused of censoring The Matador’s coverage of the dismissal of popular first-year English teacher and speech and debate coach Andrew Nguyen.

Schofield had asked to pre-approve the article about Nguyen, saying that it must be a positive feature without specifics of the dismissal. Later, Schofield said it wasn’t his intention to censor, but rather, he was concerned about Nguyen’s right to privacy.

The district conducted an investigation into the incident and found in June that Schofield did not mean to censor the article — critics, however, have found the investigation to be inadequate.

The district also announced plans to implement several safeguards for the student press, including mandatory student media training for staff members involved with student publications and revised procedures that align with California Education Code 48907.

It is unclear who will advise San Gabriel’s student media while Kim is on leave. According to the Pasadena Star-News:

Jazmin Campos, one of Kim’s yearbook students who attended camp, said they were all in “shock” when they heard the news.

“We’re all a little anxious to see how things are going to go,” she said. “We can’t have just any ordinary teacher be our substitute. We need someone with as much experience as her to help run the class.”