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After flag-burning scandal, Calif. student paper lives to see another year

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  1. Prior Restraint
A California high school newspaper, which seemed headed for demise last week after students ran a front-page photo of a burning American flag, will publish next semester after all.

A California high school newspaper, which seemed headed for demise last week after students ran a front-page photo of a burning American flag, will publish next semester after all.

The reversal comes just days after Shasta High Principal Milan Woollard told reporters the "embarrassing" photo "cements" his decision to deep-six the Shasta High Volcano. The student-run paper was said to be on the chopping block anyway in a tight budget year.

But since then, school Superintendent Mike Stuart spoke with student Amanda Cope, who is in line to take over as editor of the paper next year. Stuart now agrees to supply the estimated $13,000 for the newspaper program.

As for changes, the Student Press Law Center reported that rather than letting administrators taking over, Stuart wants students next semester to be mentored by professional journalists at the Redding Record Searchlight  on editorial decision-making.

"It’s O.K. to put controversial things in the paper," Stuart said. "Putting  your opinion out there is a brave thing to do. There ought to be a lot of thought that goes into that."

The offending photo, of a student waving a burning flag, and the ensuing flap over the paper’s future generated national attention after it ran in the Volcano‘s June 3 issue.

Under California law, the SPLC reports, student newspapers can’t be censored unless they "contain material that is obscene, libelous or likely to incite students to break laws or disrupt the school."