LISTEN – MCPS Superintendent Suspends Principal – Reprimands Journalism Teacher At Willard School
Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Thane suspended Willard Alternative High School Principal Jane Bennett and wrote a letter of reprimand to journalism teacher Lisa Waller over last week's controversial Willard Wire story.
The January issue contained an editorial entitled 'Free The Nipple', and was accompanied by a photo of a topless woman and man. Another photo of several topless women and men appeared on the cover. Thane said the photos, along with lewd and vulgar language in the editorial violated MCPS Board policy 3221.
"The journalism class helps to publish the Willard Wire, and so the direct tie to the curriculum and the support the school district provides in making the newspaper possible cause us to reason that it does fall under that board policy," Thane said. "We need to be exercising our responsibility that we're paying attention to the content, and that it's appropriate to the audience for which it is intended."
Thane said he fully supports the class for tackling controversial topics.
"The article itself was well-written," he said. "I would actually encourage the students to make a few edits and that it be republished and redistributed. The mainstream media picked up the story, and they all opted to either blur the photo or place black bar across it, because in their professional judgement it was pushing the envelope. Certainly, as the adults, we have the responsibility to make sure we're helping the students to ask those appropriate questions."
According to the school's website:
Willard is a “school of choice” designed for students who want to earn a high school diploma and who want to participate in a rigorous and relevant educational experience preparing them for their adult roles and responsibilities in the 21st Century.