The Neshaminy High School, Pennsylvania sports team nickname is the Redskins, which is obviously a matter of some controversy. The student editor of the school paper made a policy of not using that word in the paper and has now been suspended, along with the faculty adviser for not stopping her from implementing that policy.
Gillian McGoldrick, the paper’s student Editor-in-Chief, was suspended from the paper for a month. The paper’s faculty adviser Tara Huber was also suspended without pay for two days by district Superintendent Robert Copeland for failing to stop the students from moving ahead with their ban on the word.
Tensions between the school’s administration and the editors of Playwickian have been building for nearly a year. Twice the editors of the Playwickian announced they would not print the name of the school’s mascot because it is offensive to Native Americans, opting instead to run it as “R——-”, and twice principal Rob McGee threatened to discipline the paper and any editors who refused to print the word. McGee also reportedly confiscated copies of the paper during a meeting with McGoldrick in June, deducted $1,200 from the paper’s account, and attempted to block access to the paper’s social media accounts.The case got so heated that it has attracted the attention of press freedom advocates at the Student Press Law Center, who stepped in last fall to help defend the editors in case school officials followed through with their threats. Any disciplinary action taken by the public school could leave the district open to legal action for violating students’ free speech, an attorney at the SPLC told Poynter in July.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has given schools way more control over student newspapers than they should have in many rulings over the decades. But I’d sure like to see a lawsuit filed here.