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Student magazine alleges censorship over abortion stories

By The Associated Press

GRAND LEDGE, Mich. — The student editor of a high school news magazine says district officials censored stories about abortion.

Zane McMillin, editor of The Comets' Tale at Grand Ledge High School, said administrators removed telephone numbers for Planned Parenthood and other agencies that provide information about pregnancy alternatives, and rewrote a summary of state law regarding parental consent.

About 1,000 copies of the revised magazine were set to be published this week.

"No matter what they say, it is censorship," McMillin told the Lansing State Journal for a May 2 story.

But the school's principal, Richard Pochert, said district policy gave administrators control and supervision over the magazine. He said state law barred schools from even remotely making abortion referrals, and that the district could lose 5% of its state funding if it broke the law.

One of the magazine stories focuses on a Grand Ledge student who regretted having an abortion; another story involves a girl who continued going to school after giving birth.

Pochert said officials changed the language about Michigan's abortion law because a student-written summary was inaccurate.

"There's a difference between censorship and compliance with Michigan's school code and Michigan law," Pochert said.

Steve Krumm, a spokesman for the district, said a letter about the controversy was mailed to parents on May 1.

A national expert on student publishing said Grand Ledge administrators could be interpreting their authority too broadly.

"It gets a little bit complicated, but school officials certainly don't have unlimited authority to censor anything they want," said Mike Hiestand, an attorney for the Arlington, Va.-based Student Press Law Center.


Georgia principal kills student newspaper's final edition

Pebblebrook High's Randolph Bynum also eliminates journalism class, citing teacher shortage, need to keep more popular courses. 05.27.05

Calif. student newspaper finally prints controversial articles

School officials relent, allow Bakersfield students to publish stories written last school year that were based on interviews with homosexual students. 11.08.05

Censored edition of student newspaper to be printed
Oak Ridge, Tenn., superintendent says The Oak Leaf won't contain birth-control story, will have edited version of tattoo article. 11.30.05

School board rejects prior review of student publications
Columbus, Ind., high school newspaper's report on risks of oral sex prompted effort to require superintendent's sign-off on everything published. 01.25.06

Calif. principal pulls student newspaper over racy stories
Previous edition of Carson High's Trailblazer was also withdrawn, that time because of article comparing rowdy black students to 'a pack of monkeys.' 12.04.06

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