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April 23, 2008

Just say yes

Students in high school are sometimes a bunch of twerps, and students who run high-school newspapers are sometimes twerps squared. But this doesn't mean they're always wrong.

This fact is a useful one to keep in mind when you're a high-school administrator who's considering whether to permit an article to be published in the high-school newspaper.

Case in point: Moreno Carrasco, the principal of Richard Montgomery High School, one of the county high schools located in Rockville, has come under scrutiny for possibly running a consulting business on school time (and allegedly plagiarizing promotional materials for his training program). Carrasco is now on medical leave for an unspecified condition. The allegations have been the talk of the town.

So naturally the kids who run the school newspaper wanted to write an article about it. Veronica McCall, the acting principal, told them they couldn't publish the article while the investigation of Carrasco was continuing. The kids took it upstairs to the "Community Superintendent," who allowed the article to be published.

Why would the acting principal try to stop an article on what seems like a perfectly reasonable subject to write about?

McCall said she still disagrees with printing the article and thinks it is a "disruption to the instructional environment" with year-end exams coming up.

"I am not in support of publishing the article in The Tide newspaper," she said. "I want the students and staff to be focused on education."
This explanation makes no sense whatsoever. The matter has been discussed repeatedly in the local press. And why shouldn't students read about it in the school newspaper, assuming they read the school newspaper at all? It hardly seems to be a disruption to the educational environment.

I've actually had the opportunity to meet Ms. McCall in a professional situation, and I was very impressed with her. So I chalk this up to a simple error in judgment based on the uncomfortable position she must feel she's in.

But there's always going to be something uncomfortable for a school administrator, and there will always be a sense that students working for the school newspaper are annoying twerps. It's at precisely those times that a school administrator needs to keep this fact in mind: Sometimes the simplest and most correct answer is Yes.

UPDATE (4/30): The article in the student newspaper has been published. For the record, it contains one allegation involving Ms. McCall similar to the one I edited out of the first comment to this post.

UPDATE (6/12): Carrasco cleared, moved to another job.