Support for Fond du Lac High School journalism students who feel their First Amendment rights are being taken away by a new district policy continue to come in. Just today, the Kettle Moraine Press Association asked the district to reconsider its decision.
We first told you on Tuesday about the Fond du Lac School District implementing new guidelines that now require the high school principal and superintendent to approve anything that is printed in the school newspaper. The guidelines, according to journalism students, are a form a censorship. The district says otherwise.
Support is still growing for students behind the latest edition of Cardinal Columns, the Fond du Lac High School student newspaper. After the student reporters and editors focused part of the issue on the culture of rape, the school district imposed new guidelines giving the principal and superintendent final say in what goes in the paper. More than 2,000 people signed an online petition in support of the students.
"I don't think that when this all started we expected to get as much support as we did, but we are so so so thankful," says Tanvi Kumar a Fond du Lac High School senior and Editor-in-Chief of Cardinal Columns.
Despite that support, the district says it's standing by the decision.
High School principal Jon Wiltzius says,"If an article would come to me with a topic that does not meet the expectations or guidelines then yes I will have to deny that."
But Principal Wiltzius says that doesn't mean the story is dead. Instead he says he will work with the journalism students and their teacher to come up with what he deems is an acceptable way to present a topic.
Says Wiltzius, "As we work through that process now of identifying what's appropriate, what's not based on those guidelines I think that's where the communication has to occur as well."
While students say they're encouraged to hear there could be some collaboration, they are still skeptical of how it will work.
Tanvi Kumar adds, "Though Mr. Wiltzius is an extremely intelligent man he is not a journalism expert, so ultimately it is someone who is not an expert in journalism who is deciding what gets included in our paper."
Even though students are still somewhat discouraged by the guidelines moving forward, the journalism students say they are already working on continuing their hard hitting investigative pieces in hopes of making a difference.