Monday, May 28, 2007

Principal D*B* Ducks Waterbury Paper

Brief Item Does Not Mention
Banning Of Free-Speech T-Shirts

Student learns what's said on Internet can be heard, and can hurt

Waterbury Republican-American
Page B2
May 28, 2007

Student’s remark bites her back A 16-year-old girl’s Internet journal entry is at the forefront of a freedom of speech debate on the Lewis S. Mills High School campus in Burlington. Avery Doninger planned to run for a fourth term as class secretary on Friday, but Principal Karissa Niehoff removed her from the race after she saw the student’s online blog, which called school administrators a derogatory term. Lauren Doninger , the girl’s mother, said her daughter was upset that a battle of the bands she had been organizing had been postponed and posted the remark out of frustration. “I know what she said is not right, and Avery knows it’s not right,” Doninger said, “but her punishment is extreme. It lasts an entire year. That’s not right, either.” Doninger said someone sent the blog to Niehoff. She said another student posting on her daughter’s blog also used an obscenity to describe Superintendent Paula Schwartz, but that student was not punished. “The school’s punishments need to be uniform,” said Doninger , who noted she has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union to possibly bring the matter to court. “It’s not like Avery promoted her blog in school. She thought it was private. The punishment is troubling because everything happened off school grounds. ... This sets bad precedent.” Niehoff did not return a message seeking comment.

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