Dozens of people who attended a school board meeting to support a suspended journalism teacher left frustrated when they were not allowed to speak.
The student editor of the Woodlan Junior-Senior High School newspaper said some staff members quit on Tuesday, the day after East Allen County Schools officials placed teacher Amy Sorrell on paid leave pending a review of whether her contract should be terminated.
The action came two months after the student newspaper published a sophomore's editorial advocating tolerance for homosexuals and officials responded by requiring the all future issues be approved by the principal of the 700-student school east of Fort Wayne.
School Board President Stephen Terry told those attending Tuesday night's meeting they would not be allowed to discuss Sorrell's suspension, saying the board might in the future hear an appeal if she was fired.
"It's to preserve the rights of the teacher," Terry said.
He said his decision was based on state law, but when a teachers union representative asked for the specific law, Terry ruled the question out of order.
"I think it's kind of ridiculous that they're not going to listen to the parents and students and taxpayers that are here," Sorrell said after leaving the board meeting.
Cortney Carpenter, a junior who was editor of the Woodlan Tomahawk, said she and at least two other students quit the newspaper staff Tuesday after Principal Ed Yoder told the class that it must resume publishing the school paper and print a district policy naming the principal as the publisher.
"We decided that it was wrong and we couldn't do it, and all the things we had done up to that point would be meaningless if we decided to back down," she said.
School district officials have said newspaper classes are expected to publish newspapers as part of the curriculum.
Woodlan school is going to be in the same place the Raymond Elementary school in Warren Township found itself of having to hire a public relations firm after it mishandled a student sex incident in the classroom to fix the public relations disaster it has created for itself. Beating down Sorrell as hard as they can is only going to make matters much worse for the school. These people should know better.