Don't Punish High School Journalists For Telling The Truth
  • Petitioned Leon Lundie

This petition was delivered to:

Principal, Overland High School
Leon Lundie
Superintendent, Cherry Creek School District
Mary Chesley
Communications Director, Cherry Creek School District
Tustin Amole

Don't Punish High School Journalists For Telling The Truth

    1. Petition by

      Lori Schafer

      Aurora, CO

  1.  
  2.   
April 2011

Victory

Censoring student journalists is a crime in Colorado, but the principal of a Colorado high school threatened to shut down the student newspaper -- for truthfully reporting on the death of a classmate.

Telling Overland High School students that their story was "too big for a high school paper," Principal Leon Lundie in Aurora, CO yanked the students' faculty advisor from her position, changed their journalism class to a non-publishing class and shut down the paper.

After students worked with the Student Press Law Center, the ACLU and the Colorado High School Press Association, Principal Lundie backed down, promised that the newspaper would continue to publish and told the Denver Post the controversy was due to miscommunication. More than 4,000 Change.org members - many from Colorado - added their support to this campaign.

The principal of a Colorado high school has shut down the student newspaper -- for truthfully reporting on the death of a classmate. Telling students that their story was "too big for a high school paper," he yanked the students' faculty advisor from her position, changed their journalism class to a non-publishing class and shut down the paper.

Censoring student journalists in Colorado isn't just wrong. It's illegal. Colorado student journalists and their journalism advisors are protected by a state law that says they have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press.

But Principal Leon Lundie of Overland High School in Aurora, Colo., blatantly disregarded the law in an attempt to silence a story the students reported about a fellow student who died as a result of an injury during a wrestling tournament. Even though the students backed up the story with interviews and research - and even provided Lundie with the student's death certificate - he reportedly told them that the story "lacked balance."

When the students said they'd go ahead with the story, Lundie told them it would be the last issue they'd publish, hauled their advisor into a meeting and fired her, and said through a spokesperson that the newspaper was shutting down due to "budget concerns" - a rationale refuted by the students themselves, who say they're not over budget. The ACLU and the Student Press Law Center are speaking up for these students - let's add our voices as well.

Can you help make this right? Taking a stand will send a message to Overland High -- and other schools watching this story -- that we care about freedom of speech in American high schools. Speak up for the young journalists of The Overland Scout and their advisor, Laura Sudik, and tell Overland High School's principal: Don't shut down a student paper for telling the truth!

Photo credit: Guerreto via Flickr

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 4 signatures
    2. Carol Scott
      Petition Organizer

      The Denver Post reports that Overland's principal will allows the newspaper to keep printing:

    3. Carol Scott
      Petition Organizer

      Colorado lawyers will use the Overland case to educate teachers about first amendment rights

    4. Carol Scott
      Petition Organizer

      Overland High School principal pledges to let the school newspaper keep printing, rescinds "prior review" policy -

    5. Reached 3 signatures
    6. Carol Scott
      Petition Organizer

      More than 2,500 have signed this petition in support of Overland High School's student newspaper right to publish truthful reporting!

    7. Reached 2 signatures
    8. Carol Scott
      Petition Organizer

      Great news: Lori Schafer, editor-in-chief of The Scout, is now leading this petition effort!

    9. As School Backpedals, Colorado Students Still Fighting Newspaper Censorship

      Carol Scott
      Petition Organizer

      Officials at an Aurora, Colo. high school are scrambling to explain away the controversy over the principal's decision to shutter the school newspaper and yank the faculty advisor from the program.
      But they just can't keep their answers straight --...

    10. Reached 500 signatures
    11. Censorship 101: Angry Colorado Principal Shuts Down High School Newspaper

      Carol Scott
      Petition Organizer

      A Colorado high school principal has shut down the school's award-winning student newspaper -- for truthfully reporting on the death of a classmate. Telling students that their story was "too big for a high school paper," he yanked the students'...

    12. Reached 10 signatures
    13. Carol Scott
      Petition Organizer

      Use the new shortlink if you're sharing this with your friends:

    14. Reached 5 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Amy Brillon SALEM, MA
      • over 3 years ago

      Good luck with your petition. Soon children won't be able to think while in school without being punished for it and our school will be spanish mandatory as a first language.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Wilma Wright STONE MOUNTAIN, GA
      • over 3 years ago

      Put the journalism advisor back in her position and remove the principal...

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Lisa Qualls RESTON, VA
      • over 3 years ago

      What is wrong with you principal Lundie? You are sending the wrong message to the students. You are keeping them from learning and trampling their rights. You should be fired!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Mark McCreary AURORA, CO
      • over 3 years ago

      This is just wrong. High School Journalism is a foundation for students to learn how to convey a story to their fellow students and faculty. These students wrote the story and did all the fact checking they needed. The principal just didn't like the fact that the story put Overland High School in a bad light and maybe the High School did something wrong in the death of this young man. They should reinstate the newspaper.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Joseph Ellinghaus WESTMINSTER, CO
      • over 3 years ago

      Principal Leon Lundie owes the student journalists and their adviser, Laura Sudik, a personal apology, and an admission that he acted improperly.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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