Overland High School newspaper threatened with closure to survive after ACLU complaints
Last week, two editors of The Scout, the Overland High School student newspaper, appeared with representatives of the ACLU of Colorado to protest actions of the school's principal, who was said to have ordered the pub to shut down for the year and removed its faculty adviser over a disputed story. Subsequent reports have been all over the map, but a district spokeswoman now insists the paper will stay alive this year and into the future.
According to the ACLU, Overland Principal Leon Lundie instituted a policy of prior review for The Scout -- a highly debatable action in the view of organizations like the Student Press Law Center. In following this policy earlier this month, students showed Lundie a story about an Overland student who died after being injured during a wrestling match. Lundie allegedly told reporters the cause of death listed in the story was wrong, and when they obtained a death certificate proving otherwise, he complained that the piece lacked balance.
Days later, the ACLU maintains, Lundie removed teacher Laura Sudik from her role as newspaper adviser and told Scout staffers that the newspaper would stop publishing because of his displeasure at its direction -- although he did okay a senior issue focusing on nostalgia, not news.
Student editors Lori Schafer and Jaclyn Gutierrez refused to mutely accept this ruling and went to the ACLU, which staged a well-attended press conference. Afterward, reports from news organizations such as 9News, the Aurora Sentinel and the Denver Daily News were all over the map, in large part because of what appeared to be shifting responses from the Cherry Creek School District, of which Overland is a part. For instance, the Denver Post quoted Cherry Creek School District spokeswoman Tustin Amole as saying publication of the newspaper had been halted for budgetary reasons, not censorship.