Neshaminy School District superintendent Robert Copeland is a censorious tyrant who is smearing the reputation of a fantastic high school. He must be stopped.
I grew up 15 minutes or so from Neshaminy High School in Lower Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It has long been known for its large size, academic quality and occasional bursts of athletic -- especially football -- excellence. But under Copeland's watch, it is shimmying toward outright national embarrassment.
As an alumnus of a nearby rival high school who enjoys Facebook and real-world friendships with many former NHS students, I'm saddened to write those words. But they are true.
Copeland and a few other Neshaminy officials have been locked for a year now in an uproariously abhorrent battle royale of their own making with the high school's student newspaper, The Playwickian. Why? Because last fall Playwickian staffers decided they would no longer print the name of the school's mascot, the Redskins.
As the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) reported, Copeland sought revenge for the paper's Redskins ban by suspending Playwickian teacher-adviser Tara Huber for two days without pay last month. He also ordered the removal of student editor-in-chief Gillian McGoldrick for a full month and had $1,200 deducted from the Playwickian budget.
Sigh. It takes a special type of idiocy to censor student media over a word they won't say.
As a college media researcher, I rarely write about the scholastic press, but this situation is just too absurd to ignore. In an era of supposed apathy and mindlessness among the young, the Playwickian staff should be applauded for taking a stand on a timely, relevant issue.
As media watchers can attest, the paper's editorial pooh-poohing of the term Redskins is not some fringe protest. It is in line with a growing number of professional media, A-list sports journalists and even top broadcasters.
Trampling the freedom all students -- regardless of grade level -- should have to report the truth and raise awareness is so far removed from Neshaminy's educational mission it makes me question the sanity and basic IQ of the administrators and school board members who are in favor of it.
I'm not alone. SPLC attorney advocate Adam Goldstein: "It may be possible to get dumber people on a school board, but I don't how you go about it."
Oh, by the way: Redskins! Redskins! Redskins! Redskins!
Does that make you happy, superintendent Copeland? Is that the word you need to see repeatedly and exaltedly to ensure no censorship or suspensions occur? Great, thanks. Have a nice day.