Neshaminy School Board Member Wanted Newspaper Editors Prosecuted
We’ve told you before about the administrators at Neshaminy High School in Bucks County. Last year, student editors at The Playwickian banned the word “Redskins” from the newspaper. That’s the school’s nickname, and previous editors of the awesomely-named paper had banned it with little controversy.
Not this time. The school board has consistently attempted to force the newspaper to print the nickname, eventually settling on forcing the paper to print the word in op-eds. The district even suspended a faculty member who advised the paper, and suspended the paper’s editor from her gig for a month.
At least one board member wanted more. According to an email posted by VICE Sports this week, board member Stephen Pirritano wanted the student editors arrested and prosecuted.
The request for a police investigation came after Pirritano’s son, who has the same name, submitted a letter to the editor containing the offending word and defending its use as the school nickname. The paper wanted to printed his letter, but have the team’s nickname represented as “R*******.” Principal Robert McGee said the paper had to print the word. The paper printed a block of white space instead, along with a note as to why it wasn’t publishing this letter.
Principal McGee ran around the school that June morning confiscating copies of the newspaper before students could read them.
“This in my opinion also reaches the level of a conspiracy, in any other context except a school environment it would be considered such,” Pirritano said in an email. “I see this as no different than if these students went into another students [sic] locker and stole their phone or any valuable. Theft is theft no matter how you look at it, and they admit conspiring to do such. My statement reflects that view and in my opinion a police investigation should have taken place. It also reflects my personal philosophy that taxpayers should not be on the hook for such acts and I made that known to the public that attended our meetings as well as received comments from the public that they supported such investigation.”
Per Pirritano’s complaint about taxpayer dollars, VICE Sports reports the students themselves paid for that particular issue of The Playwickian. A right-to-know request filed by The Playwickian revealed the district has spent at least $17,000 attempting to figure out how to force the newspaper to print the offending word.
How will the Neshaminy school board embarrass itself next? Whatever they do, it still won’t be as embarrassing as the school’s nickname.