Springdale School District suspends Har-ber Newspaper

Rachell Smith, Editor

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The newspaper staff at Har-ber High School, known as the Herald, has faced backlash for revealing questionable transfers of student athletes.

In October, the staff began thoroughly investigating reports of student athletes transferring to rival high school Springdale High. The parents of the student said their transfers were because of academic reasons, but in an interview with the students themselves, the staff revealed that the students were leaving Har-ber for football. One of the athletes, Conner Sikes told the Herald “ We just believe that we can perform better over there at Springdale high school”

Though the students intentions appeared noble, the Arkansas Activities Association and Springdale district has a policy that explicitly says that students may not transfer schools due to athletic reasons.

Obviously that policy has been overlooked, and when the Herald decided to report on the infraction they were punished unjustifiably.

Once, the story was published the district made the adviser take down the story. They justified their actions by saying that the article was “intentionally negative, demeaning, derogatory, hurtful and potentially harmful to the students addressed in those articles” and “extremely divisive and disruptive to the Springdale School District’s educational community.”

In various meetings between the staff and administration, the public officials told lead writer Jack Williams that he had an obligation to protect the community. During these meetings the administration insisted that the unity of Springdale be placed over the truth.

For clarification, the only way a paper can be suspended is if the staff violated basic community guidelines or if there is a substantial disruption of a learning environment. Other than these extreme factors the Students Publications Act states “student may exercise their right of expression.”

The staff at Har-ber is not the first newspaper to be silenced, but a larger question arises over censorship with the actions of the Springdale school district. Various school administrations have found it easy to prey on the media and journalism in their schools, and evidently have no problem doing so. The media is needed now more than ever, but the power dynamic between school officials and publications has allowed administrations to silence journalism when it is not in their favor.

The staff of the Herald will not back down from the dog fight that the district has begun. Williams stated, “No disrespect is intended towards the Springdale District administration, but if they impede the truth, we will go to court,”.

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