IOWA CITY, Iowa — Students at City High School accused the principal of censorship after he pulled copies of the school's newspaper that featured a front-page article on racial attitudes at the school.
Adam Sullivan, a 17-year-old senior and executive editor of the Little Hawk, said Principal Mark Hanson was wrong to remove copies of the newspaper.
"I've been on the paper for three years — we've never had a case of censorship before," Sullivan said.
Hanson said he was reluctant to remove the newspaper but decided to take action after staff had to break up three verbal confrontations among students. The incidents involved students of different races arguing about the article.
"Picking up the papers was ... the last thing I wanted to do because I knew I was censoring, and I knew I did not want to go down that path," Hanson said.
Iowa's law on student journalism says the publication of a school newspaper can't be stopped unless it contains information that is obscene, libelous, slanderous, or encourages students to break the law, violate school regulations or cause the disruption of the operation of the school.
Hanson said he had the right to remove the copies of the newspaper because of the threat of violence that was prompted by the story.
The article, which was about the results of a Little Hawk survey, showed that 2% of respondents had an unfavorable view toward white students and 13% had an unfavorable view toward black students, Sullivan said.
Hanson, who said he reviewed the story before it was published, asked but did not insist that it not be published.
The confrontations over the story show there are racial issues at the school that need to be dealt with, Sullivan said.
"I think by pulling the paper, they (administrators) showed they didn't want to deal with it," he said.