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Controversial Stevenson student newspaper could be scrapped
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 11/23/2009 1:45 PM | Updated: 11/23/2009 3:47 PM

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The controversial November issue of Stevenson High School's student newspaper has been scrapped, its editor said Monday.

"Right now we're printing nine issues instead of 10," Editor Pam Selman said. "There will be an issue Dec. 18, and hopefully we can save some of the work from the Nov. 20 issue."

Selman's comments come nearly a week after administrators at the Lincolnshire school halted publication of the latest issue, which was to have been released this past Friday.

The issue was scrapped after administrators ordered a story held because it featured "anonymous sources discussing alleged illegal activity that was not fit for print," school officials said last week.

The story had to do with National Honor Society students and freshman mentors admitting to drinking and smoking. Stories about shoplifting and teen pregnancy also were deemed inappropriate, a Statesman editor said last week, and the entire issue was pulled.

Administrators had wanted the issue to come out, but with changes. On Monday, Selman said she and the other student journalists stand by the stories in question.

"We are working to save as much of the November issue as we can, but it's a matter of principle," said Selman, a senior from Buffalo Grove. "We have standards and ethics we believe in."

Selman and Statesman Managing Editor Evan Ribot met with Principal Janet Gonzalez, the Statesman advisers and other administrators on Monday to discuss the matter. The teens' parents were involved in the roughly 45-minute meeting, too.

"We just discussed how to move forward," Selman said. "There's been a lot of dialogue between (the students) and the administration."

Stevenson spokesman Jim Conrey declined to discuss the nature of Monday's talks.

"The meeting that occurred this morning was a private meeting related to student progress in a course that is part of our curriculum," he said in an e-mail. "Consequently, we will not be releasing any details from the meeting."

Selman said the teens are interested in a compromise, but added "we're really just hoping the school does the right thing."

Conrey said school officials are hopeful the November issue eventually will be published. Selman didn't sound optimistic that would happen.

"There was a lot of good work (in the issue), and it's a shame that none of it is being printed right now," she said.

No disciplinary action has been taken against any of the students, Conrey said.

"And I take that they met this morning as an indication that there probably won't be," he said.

The controversy is the latest dispute between students and administrators over Statesman reporting. A January story about teen sex led to more administration oversight because of what officials said were reporting problems.

Additionally, teacher Barbara Thill left her post as the newspaper's adviser at the end of the 2008-09 term.