From the June 2000 Idaho Observer:
Lake City High bans 1st Amendment rights
Student publication banned, student expelled for Intent to Speak
by Hari Heath
COEUR D'ALENE -- Lake City High administrator Mr. Brumley has banned Institution-A-Lies, a student-published magazine, from being distributed on the High School campus. Why? Institution-A-Lies editor and student Mike Mayo published a report card that gave Mrs. Laura Vincent, a home economics-trained teacher, an F for her performance as an economics class instructor.
Chas Phillips began his writing career by publishing an editorial critical of the school's policy which outlaws the publishing of such a paper without administration approval. He posted it on the school's wall without first obtaining approval. When many students began reading it, and some posting their own articles, he knew he was onto something.
Logan Graf was one of the students who read it and posted an editorial of his own. Before long they decided to publish a magazine and Institution-A-Lies was born.
Institution-A-Lies covers a wide variety of subjects from local student issues to world affairs and proves that not all is lost in our public education/indoctrination system. Refreshing, articulate and intelligent articles span the pages of their little magazine published on a copy machine. Sam Davenport, Mike Mayo and Jil Jaeger form the publishing team. Mike Mayo manages the on-line publishing of their website, which can be found at: www.institution-a-lies.org.
The day after publishing their 5th edition with the teacher review, Chas Phillips, Logan Graf, and Mike Mayo were separately called into Mr. Brumley's office for an interview with their parents. Logan Graf said that Mr. Brumley told them, he was benignly neglectful of enforcing the policy in the past because of the good intent of the newspaper and the fairly responsible manner in which it was published, but at the point which Mike published his teacher review, there was far too much pressure from the staff on him, and he couldn't continue to let it be distributed in his school and continue to let things like this be published. He had no choice but to enforce the policy. Any more distribution of Institution-A-Lies on campus and they would be facing a three to five day suspension.
Are teachers that afraid of an honest review of their educational performance? Do they want to create immunity from any review by those most affected by their professional conduct? Does the policy provide for the penalties Mr. Brumley threatened to impose if the publishers exercised their 1st Amendment rights?
According to the publishers, other non-school publications are distributed on campus but, not only are they not being approved, they aren't even being evaluated at all. It's absolute selective enforcement of this policy, Phillips said.
The publishers have contacted the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) and are talking with one of their attorneys. They have sent copies of the applicable school board policies and issues of their magazine to the SPLC. The Institution-A-Lies publishers believe the policy is misapplied and poorly defined. They contend the policy was not intended to stop their magazine, but rather to control corporate advertising on campus. They believe this because when they contacted the School District Office that's what they were told the policy was for.
The publishers have received and read a number of court cases from the SPLC which also supports their right to publish. They have also been in contact with the school board trying to make an exception to the rule or clarify the policy so they can publish and distribute without threat of suspension.
Shortly after the Institution-A-Lies was banned from publication, Lake City High had a school concert featuring a couple of local bands. One of the band members called for someone from the now banned publication to speak about the prohibition of their publication. Mayo and Davenport came to the stage but one of the teachers told them they could not talk about Institution-A-Lies. They learned they were prohibited from speaking about their publication by the teacher in charge of the school concert.
Mayo argued with the teacher for which he received a three-day suspension. Davenport had some notes which outlined the details of the banishment of Institution-A-Lies. The notes were confiscated and he was suspended for five days for intent to speak.
Undaunted by their school administrator's suppression of their First Amendment rights, both to speak and to publish, the Institution-A-Lies editors are diligently working on the 6th edition which will be available before graduation. Phillips, Graf and Davenport are graduating this June. Mayo and Jaeger plan to keep Institution-A-Lies going during the 2000-2001 school year.
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