By: Randy Dotinga
It has now become common around the country for school officials to resist visits by reporters. Some examples:
u When Ann Griffith, a reporter for the Antioch, Calif., Ledger Dispatch, went on a high school campus to interview students about the dismissal of a security guard in 1997, the school called police. A policeman appeared and forced her to leave. Griffith ended up interviewing students on the sidewalk outside the school.
u In 1997, a 13-year-old student at a San Diego junior high school spiked a teacher’s iced tea with the drug LSD, and the teacher drank it. The school refused to let San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Sharon L. Jones go onto campus to talk with the teacher or his students. Jones later interviewed the teacher at his home.
u In 1997, a federal court convicted a Washington, D.C., charter school principal of pummeling and kicking Washington Times reporter Susan Ferrechio when she made a surprise visit to the campus. The principal was also convicted of attacking two police officers in the December 1996 incident. An office manager and two teachers were also convicted of assault.
u A gang-related riot broke out at a high school in Oceanside, Calif., near San Diego, in 1994. Hayne Palmour and Jamie Scott Lytle, two photographers from the North County Blade-Citizen (now the North County Times), tried to enter the campus, but were allegedly pushed and shoved by school officials. The photographers filed a $6 million claim against the school district, which rejected the claim. The photographers never filed a lawsuit.
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