PORTLAND, Ore. – Max Denning feels strongly about student journalism.
“It should be the unbiased point of view of the students,” said Denning. “They don’t have an owner telling them what they can and cannot write.”
Denning is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Parkrose High School newspaper, The Bronco Blaze.
The Parkrose School District confiscated hundreds of copies of the latest issue over an obscenity featured in a tweet in a front page story.
The story took on cyberbullying at the school by calling out an anonymous Twitter account set up by a student or students. The account spread cruel rumors over the summer and targeted students by name.
“It was such a malicious, hateful thing to do,” Denning said.
The tweet featured in the article read “The entire class of 2013 is [expletive]. Y’all are going nowhere in life. #tobehonest”
Denning said he printed the tweet in its entirety because it makes an important point.
“I want parents to look at that and think ‘what are my kids doing on Twitter?’”
Denning said the school disagreed with his decision and confiscated around 200 copies of the newspaper.
The Parkrose Superintendent told KATU News the profanity was not allowed because it broke a district rule.
“We pulled the papers because profanity in the form of the F bomb was used for the first time in our student paper. The district does not allow profanity in the student generated paper. It is being used for shock value only. This is not about content. The district is a Positive Behavior and Instruction Support district and this is contrary. We are also teaching the standards of professional journalism, which we know this is not,” said Parkrose District Superintendent Karen Gray in an email to KATU News.
“Finally, the principal has met numerous times with the students to reason and discuss this matter and so has the superintendent. They refuse to compromise. The compromise was to print the word "F...". And we would reprint the paper for no cost in its entirety. There is no district in Oregon I know of that would ever open this door.”
Denning said despite the controversy, he wants the focus on the subject of the article: The dangers of cyberbullying.
“It causes suicide, it causes bullying that continues in school,” he said. “It’s such a cowardly way to bully someone because you don’t have to be there.”
“We’re not trying to say we want to run that word every single paper, we’re trying to say we have the right to run that word.”