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28 January 2012

Repudiation: Shawano Schools Failure to Edit

Todd Starnes of Fox News Radio wrote a commentary about an op-ed that a Wisconsin teenager wrote and the school published before retracting.  In it, he describes Liberty Counsel, an offshoot of the Liberty University Law School that specializes in religious activism, taking the case because of egregious behavior by the Superintendent of Shawano School District.
Mathew Staver, the founder of the Liberty Counsel, sent a letter to Superintendent Todd Carlson demanding an apology for “Its unconstitutional and irrational censorship and humiliation” of Brandon Wegner [, the teen author of the op-ed].
After the op-ed was published, a gay couple whose child attend s the high school, complained.
The school immediately issued an apology – stating Wegner’s opinion was a “form of bullying and disrespect.”
“Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District,” the statement read. “We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended and are taking steps to prevent items of this nature from happening in the future.”
But Staver said what the school system did next was absolutely outrageous. He said the 15-year-old was ordered to the superintendent’s office where he was subjected to hours of meetings and was accused of violating the school’s bullying policy.
Local news has the following:

At this point, I am not sure whether to believe Mr. Staver's allegations. But, if the school district made a mistake, that mistake was made much earlier than any discussion between the Superintendent and the student.

While the op-ed was offensive, included inaccurate information (see my review of the All Children Matter Report), and may have been against the school's policies, why was it printed in the first place?  Schools usually assign a teacher or principal as the managing editor of any student papers for which the school is the publisher.  Once published, the school was right to apologize.  But they were wrong in ever allowing the op-ed.

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