District officials have barred students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida from using any names or photographs in the online version of the school’s newspaper.
“We are trying to balance the rights of free speech with the safety and security of our students,” said Carmen Valera-Russo, associate superintendent in charge of technology.
A student newspaper is circulated in the relatively small world of students, parents, and educators, Valera-Russo explained, but the online version is accessible to anyone.
Michelle Gideon, the faculty advisor, said she understands the concern but thinks the online version suffers from the censorship. “It’s no longer a student newspaper; it’s more of a school informational newsletter now,” she said.
The district has attracted the ire of a student advocacy group. Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, called the district’s action “a classic example of letting our fears take control and throwing reason out the window.”
“No one can point to any single incident where any student has been threatened as a result of a name or photograph appearing in an online newspaper,” Goodman said.