St. Louis superintendent recalls high school yearbook

By The Associated Press
06.08.05

ST. LOUIS — The superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools said on June 6 that he was recalling a high school's yearbook for its suggestive contents, gang signs and other questionable material.

Creg Williams also launched an investigation of the teacher who sponsored the yearbook, as well as the high school's principal, Stanley Engram, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The yearbooks, distributed to Central High School's students, contained pictures of students flashing gang signs, sexually suggestive comments and other inappropriate material.

Williams said the teacher, Bill Perry, printed the yearbook without showing it to Engram for approval, then distributed copies of it last week.

The teacher has been out on sick leave since last month. Williams said Engram would remain in his school for the rest of the school year, which ends June 13.

The newspaper reported that Williams asked students at the visual and performing arts magnet school to return copies of the spiral-bound yearbook for a refund.

An attorney, Thomas Blumenthal, who is on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, said the U.S. Supreme Court had given school districts broad discretion in censoring student publications, according to the Post-Dispatch.

Even so, Blumenthal told the newspaper, he found such censorship troubling at a magnet school that emphasizes the arts.

"The result is you are dampening freedom of expression for individual students," Blumenthal said in yesterday's newspaper story. "The school is caught in a dilemma where they have to decide whether to foster that freedom, or decide that they don't want to offend."