SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA) — The Springdale School District will allow Har-Ber High School’s student newspaper staff to repost an article investigating the transfer of five football players.
Rick Schaeffer, school district spokesman, released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
After continued consideration of the legal landscape, the Springdale School District has concluded that the Har-Ber Herald articles may be reposted. This matter is complex, challenging and has merited thorough review. The social and emotional well-being of all students has been and continues to be a priority of the district.
This statement may or may not answer all of your questions but this is all we have to say. The district will not make anyone available for interviews. Again, thank you for your patience.
Students at Har-Ber said former athletes transferred to their rival – Springdale High School – to play football. Such a move would make the athletes ineligible to play, according to the Arkansas Activities Association.
Journalism students at Har-Ber investigated and wrote an article for The Har-Ber Herald, the student newspaper, but were soon shut down by the school district after publication.
Jack Williams, a junior and member of the student newspaper staff, said that his adviser tasked him with the story a month ago.
“We then proceeded to investigate,” he said.
Many local and national journalism organizations came to the journalists defense following the shutdown.
The following joint statement was issued by the faculty of the University of Arkansas School of Journalism and Strategic Media and the Society of Professional Journalists, Northwest Arkansas Chapter in support of Har-Ber High School journalists:
The faculty of the University of Arkansas School of Journalism and Strategic Media and members of the Society of Professional Journalists Northwest Arkansasdisagree with the decision of the Superintendent of Springdale Public Schools to remove from the Har-Ber Herald website the Oct. 30 report on the Har-Ber and
Springdale high school football teams and the accompanying editorial.
We believe the public should be allowed to read the article to assess its merits.
We stand with the high school student journalists who are expressing their First Amendment rights by covering important issues to their campus community. We urge the Springdale School District to allow the Har-Ber Herald to continue to serve its community by publishing articles in the public interest.
A foundation of this country is the right of the press to investigate and report the facts, particularly as they relate to a government policy and how that policy is being implemented. Censoring these journalists’ efforts is a chilling reminder of the kind of democracy we do not want to become.