Student, teacher publish, then pay

A Cascade High School student is suspended and his teacher is on paid administrative leave following the latest publication of the Free Stehekin.

Junior David Whittemore, 17, said he was suspended for using school resources to publish the underground student newspaper.

Whittemore, the paper’s managing editor, is not sure whether students will publish again.

“I don’t want to say I’ve lost hope. But I do think, ‘Is it really worth it?’ … I don’t want it to just end. I want to fight the good fight and stuff like that. But for personal sanity, I can’t,” he said.

He started serving a 10-day suspension Monday after he was caught using a school computer to download files for the publication from his e-mail account onto a personal laptop.

Superintendent Carol Whitehead earlier this year had instructed students not to use school resources for their independent publications.

Creative writing teacher Kay Powers was placed on paid administrative leave last Friday.

Whittemore said his teacher was placed on leave apparently for not enforcing those rules.

Students and staff Friday wore black armbands to show support for the teacher.

Prior-review policy

For a history of underground newspapers at Everett high schools and the district’s prior review policy, see this story from December 2006.

“We think she’s a powerful teacher and an asset to Cascade High School,” said Brynn Eden, 17, a junior who wore a T-shirt saying “Viva la Powers” as part of a midday protest at the school.

“We wanted to show administrators we cared … and want her back.”

The Everett School District is in the midst of a lawsuit that two former Everett High School student editors brought 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.

Cascade High’s student arts and literary magazine, Tyro, also went underground. Eden is editor of the annual publication, Tyro Libre, which was recently published.

Powers was adviser of the school-sanctioned Stehekin and Tyro before the lawsuit.

A trial in the Kodak case is scheduled for July 23 in federal court in Seattle.

Everett School District spokeswoman Mary Waggoner said administrators can’t comment on open inquiries into teacher conduct.

“The investigation is ongoing and not yet complete. She is on administrative leave pending the results of that investigation … I can’t even say what it’s about at this point,” she said.

Powers also is not allowed to discuss the investigation.

The last issue of the Free Stehekin came out May 24.

In it, Powers also is credited for taking a photo of a napping student that was published alongside a story about senioritis.

Whittemore said he was crunched for time designing the issue and didn’t want to wait until he got home to use the Internet connection there.

The boy said district administrators put together a binder with screen shots – captured images of the school computer screen – documenting what he had done.

Students are typically allowed to check e-mail on school computers, but Whittemore said “I pretty much got what I deserved.”

Powers was not involved but was in the room at the time he downloaded files, he said.

Some teachers at Cascade High joined students Friday in silent protest of their colleague’s departure by wearing armbands.

“(Powers) has been there 20-odd years and she’s a very passionate teacher; Many students love her,” said English teacher John Foley, who assigned his students a lesson on free speech in response to his colleague’s situation.

Students jokingly refer to their teacher as “Che Powers” after Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara.

And Powers has taken part in her share of protests, said Foley.

“She is very political and does stir up a lot of emotions in students. But she gets them thinking,” he said.

There’s no timeline set for the investigation.

“It’s a long process,” said Kim Mead, president of the Everett Education Association, which represents Powers and other teachers.

Reporter Melissa Slager: 425-339-3465 or

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