SPJ calls on Pennsylvania school district to restructure high school publications policy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
David Cuillier, SPJ National President, 520.248.6242, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellen Kobe, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317.920.4785, email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS – Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists expressed dismay Wednesday about a high school censorship case in Neshaminy School District in Pennsylvania. The organization, which represents about 8,000 journalists throughout the nation, sent a letter to Neshaminy School District Board President Scott Congdon addressing its concerns.
After editors at the Neshaminy High School student newspaper refused to print “Redskins” as the school’s mascot name, the board of directors released a publications policy addressing what the students are and are not permitted to publish. SPJ believes the current version of the publications policy doesn't comply with the First Amendment or with Pennsylvania's student press rights law.
“By creating policies with such harsh restrictions, you’re failing your students,” wrote President David Cuillier. “Putting students under the tightest possible levels of control will only leave them unprepared for college and uncompetitive in the workforce.”
Furthermore, the Society sees this policy as a threat to the future of democracy.
“A free press has been known to expose unethical businesses, corrupt political leaders and dangerous criminals,” Cuillier wrote. “If the nation’s educators teach young student journalists to accept being silenced or swayed by authority, they will not gain the skills or instincts to provide this service to the American people. Furthermore, they will not understand their freedom of speech rights given to them by the First Amendment.”
SPJ thanked the school board for postponing the review of this policy and offered its help in crafting a new revision of the policy.
“We would be delighted to work with the school board to craft a publications policy that is both respectful of the school district and appropriate for your journalism students to learn in a safe environment,” Cuillier wrote.
A copy of Cuillier’s full letter to Congdon can be found below this statement.
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit http://www.spj.org/.