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November 7, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Seattle Public Schools withdraws controversial student newspaper oversight proposal

Seattle Public Schools officials have withdrawn a controversial proposal giving principals broad oversight of high school newspapers, the district announced Monday afternoon.

District administrators and school board members jointly agreed to withdraw the proposed policy and give it more thought to ensure that it “better reflects the community’s values,” according to a district news release.

“As a former journalism teacher, it is important for me — as I know it is for our Board — that we uphold our practice of trusting our teachers┬áto educate our students on the rights and responsibilities that come with freedom of expression and a free press,” Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield said.

The policy, which was set to be voted on by the school board on Dec. 7, would have let principals read copies of student papers before publication and intervene if they thought the content was libelous, obscene or “not in keeping with the school’s instructional mission and values,” among other criteria.

Many community members, including two editors at the Ballard High School newspaper, protested the proposal, arguing that it would curtail their free speech rights.

“The district made the right decision,” the Ballard students, Kate Clark and Katie Kennedy, wrote in an email after hearing about the withdrawal. “We plan to continue exercising our freedom of expression as provided by the current policy.”

The issue will be revisited next year.

Comments | More in Education | Topics: censorship, First Amendment, free speech

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