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Calif. Principal Censors Photo from Student Paper

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Calif. Principal Censors Photo from Student Paper

Article excerpt

THE PRINCIPAL OF a California high school ordered a

Page One photo removed from a student newspaper

because publishing it would invite vandalism by rival high

school students who would be angry about being portrayed as sexual

deviants. Over the objection of editors,

David Brazer, principal of Los Altos High School on the

San Francisco Peninsula, told faculty adviser Gordon Jack

and Brooke Rea, editor in chief of the Talon, to kill the

picture or risk having the paper shut down.

As a prank, two Los Altos High students rearranged the

lettering on the marquee fronting Mountain View High

School to read: "MV Spartans Blow Goats!"

Instead of the photo, editors ran a box saying the

school administration "censored a photograph of Mountain

View's marquee that was originally in this space."

In an interview, Rea said,"I thought it was pretty stupid

to get excited about that picture, but we had no choice

except to do what they asked."

"We were shocked," added features editor Jon Weiner. "I

think they broke the law in removing the picture."

But Brazer insisted he was on solid legal ground in

pulling the photo, despite a state law banning censorship

of school newspapers except material constituting a

"clear and present danger" of an unlawful act, obscenity or

defamation. Calling the Talon an"outstanding newspaper,"

he said he felt the photo would disrupt the school.

"Mountain View is our arch rival in sports. I believed

some of their students could cause trouble on our campus by

retaliating for the words in the picture," Brazer said, adding

that he was disturbed that editors knew about the prank and

still intended to run the picture. …

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