District Pays Up in High School Newspaper Suit

$27,500 to settle the lawsuit

By Jacques Spitzer
|  Monday, Jan 4, 2010  |  Updated 3:05 PM PDT
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District Pays Up in High School Newspaper Suit

DRB62, Flickr

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The Fallbrook Union High School District will be paying out a total of $27,500 to settle a lawsuit over a censored article and editorial in the Fallbrook High School campus newspaper.

The district will pay $7,500 to the faculty adviser of the campus newspaper and $20,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union to settle the lawsuit, the North County Times reported.

In November 2008, Five Fallbrook High School students and the ACLU filed the suit, claiming Principal Rod King told faculty adviser Dave Evans that he couldn't run a student-written article in the Tomahawk's November 2007 edition. The article was about former Superintendent Tom Anthony's resignation, which the district had refused to discuss. King later ordered Evans to also hold an editorial that was critical of the district's abstinence-only sex education program.

Board member Bill O'Connor and district Superintendent Dale Mitchell said the articles were held because of concerns about accuracy, according to the paper. Board members also said that despite personal reservations, they voted to settle the lawsuit to avoid additional court costs.

"I don’t think anyone particularly wanted to vote for this, but we all felt it was the best thing for the district," O'Connor told the paper.

Evans said he and the five students would not comment until after the settlement is final.
 

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