EVERETT — David Whittemore, the Cascade High School student suspended in June for using a school computer for an underground student newspaper, will not be allowed to return for his senior year.
Everett School District Superintendent Carol Whitehead informed Whittemore of her decision in a letter he received Wednesday.
Whittemore, 17, lives outside of Everett School District boundaries and had to apply for a variance to attend Cascade. His variance request was denied.
Whittemore said he was surprised, given the fact he had already served a 10-day suspension and had attended summer school to catch up on classes he had failed. In those classes, he received two A’s and an A-minus, he said.
“I was thinking that my performance at summer school would show I’m going to be more focused in school,” he said.
The Everett School District is in the midst of a lawsuit that two former Everett High School student editors filed in 2005 after administrators demanded to review each issue of that school’s student newspaper, The Kodak, before publication.
Since then, students at Everett and Cascade high schools have been publishing newspapers off school grounds.
The Kodak case is set for a September trial in federal court in Seattle.
Whittemore, who was manager of the Free Stehekin, was caught using a Cascade school computer to download files from his e-mail account onto a personal laptop computer.
Whittemore said what he did was clearly wrong, but he questions the severity of his punishment.
He had been instructed earlier in the year not to use school resources for independent publications.
Cascade English teacher Kay Powers was placed on administrative leave over the incident as well. She remains on leave while the investigation continues.
In the letter outlining her decision, Whitehead said Whittemore had defied a directive from an administrator that resulted in his suspension and he had accumulated a “significant number of unexcused absences” over a two-year period.
Disciplinary infractions, such as a suspension, and unexcused absences are among the grounds listed for denying a variance under Everett School District policy.
Whitehead met with Whittemore and his mother June 27 to discuss his situation. During that meeting, Whittemore did not convince the superintendent that his behavior would change if he returned to Cascade.
“He indicated no remorse for his defiant behavior, although he did state he was sorry he had been caught for his infractions,” Whitehead wrote.
Whittemore said he felt he had shown remorse and had tearfully pleaded to return.
“Apparently breaking down into apologetic tears isn’t a good enough sorry for a minor infraction regarding the misuse of a school computer, from which I had already been suspended for 10 days over,” he said.
Whitehead told The Herald she could not discuss the specifics of Whittemore’s case.
“Students have a right to confidentiality,” she said. “I can’t ever talk to you about an individual student.”
Whittemore plans to have his variance request appealed to the Everett School Board.
He said he will also inquire about enrolling in the Mukilteo School District where he lives.
“It’s my senior year,” he said. “Overall, it just really hurts to not be able to be graduating with my friends.”
Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446 or email@example.com.