What Niehoff doesn't say speaks louder than that which she does say. Not a word about the overarching issue of freedom of speech' especially speech outside the school walls! ...
-------- Original Message -------- Subject: RE: Avery Doninger
Date: Sat, 31 May 2008 06:48:33 -0400
From: Niehoff, Karissa
To: Mike Morris
Dear Mr. Morris,
I appreciate that you took the time to share your thoughts about what you have read regarding the Doninger case. It sounds like you have had a rich career and feel passionately about the well-being of our entire nation.
Please understand that what you have read in the news about the case is not the complete story. As I’m sure you are aware, the news often presents a bias in its reporting, and this situation is no different.
Avery was NOT stripped of her title as junior class secretary. The Jamfest was NOT cancelled. Avery knew about the scheduling conflict with our tech specialist nearly four weeks prior to telling her classmates that rescheduling would need to occur, not four days. All of this was affirmed in court; take a look at the rulings. Avery has always been quite vocal about her opinions, which is fine, if expressed appropriately during the school day (not interrupting lessons, using vulgar language, etc.) Prior to this incident, Avery had repeatedly been warned by her class advisor to stop calling the student council advisor and members names during junior class meetings.
Thus, this was not the first incident of its kind with Avery.
Our school is extremely supportive of student ideas and encourages students to be leaders; we do whatever we can to promote their creativity and involvement in school life. However, we are also charged with teaching kids that positions of privilege, such as sport captains and student government officers, are not without responsibility. Students in those positions must demonstrate good citizenship, and our board of education policies clearly spell that out. Avery had received multiple warnings about her behaviors prior to the Jamfest issue.
I hope you find this information helpful.
Lewis S. Mills High School
26 Lyon Road
Burlington, CT 06013
(860) 673-0423 ext. 5501
Fax: (860) 673-9128
Following is a Readers Digest version of the Doninger case:
Avery Doninger, a senior at Lewis S. Mills High School in Burlington, CT, has a civil rights trial pending in New Haven U.S. District Court. She and her mother, Lauren Doninger, sued Principal Karissa Niehoff and Superintendent Paula Schwartz after they removed Avery from the ballot for Class of 2008 secretary.
Avery Doninger was among a group of four students who lobbied the community for support of an annual battle of the bands sponsored by the Student Council. The student council adviser suggested the students reach out to taxpayers and the students copied the adviser an on email to the community.
Schwartz became very upset after taxpayers called her and she cancelled the event known as Jamfest. Doninger subsequently referred to administrators in a live journal blog as central office douche bags, and Schwartz's son found the posting while trolling the internet for his mother a couple weeks later. While Avery Doninger was banned from school office, another student who called Schwartz a dirty whore was given an award and lauded for citizenship.
School officials suppressed the write-in vote in which Doninger was elected by a plurality. Schwartz refused to accept Doninger's apology for her choice of words. During an assembly, Niehoff banned free-speech and Team Avery t-shirts and seized at least one shirt.
The Doningers are seeking -- among other remedies -- an apology for civil rights violations, recognition of the write-in victory and sharing of the secretary position with the administration-backed candidate.
New Haven U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz denied a motion for a preliminary injunction [immediate relief] last fall and his ruling was appealed to the Second Circuit in New York. That appeal ruling was posted May 29.