Konnie Krislock, who has been teaching journalism and yearbook at the Orange County High School of the Arts in Santa Ana for the past four years, was dismissed in June via a curt letter from the school that read, in part, “Your services are no longer needed,” according to the O.C. Register.
We covered the scandal that led up to this firing in our sister blog, the Orange Juice, back in September of last year. Click here to read that post. A student reporter at OCSHA wrote an article about a food vendor, Allegre, questioning why they got the cafeteria contract when they are known for pushing their religious views on their customers. Krislock stood up for that student.
The student’s article posed a good question given that OCHSA is a charter school that is publicly funded and runs under the auspices of the Santa Ana Unified School District.
We also looked into Allegre’s safety record and found numerous citations by the Orange County Health Department.
Now a State Senator is looking into Krislock’s firing. “The firing has landed on the radar of the state Senate, with Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, calling on regulators to check up on the high school because of the firing,” according to the Voice of OC blog.
“State law explicitly protects student publications from prior restraint and from retaliation by administrators. In 2008, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) authored a law that extended the protection to school employees, including journalism advisors,” according to the California Chronicle.
After the original censorship incident at OCHSA, Yee immediately introduced legislation to clarify that charter schools must also adhere to the law. The bill (SB 438) received unanimous support by the Senate and in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said that the apparent retaliatory firing of an adviser demonstrates the need of California’s student free expression law.
“Schools should be on notice that they can’t use advisers as a pawn to punish students for what they publish,” he said. “These students were doing solid, topical journalism that obviously hit a little too close to home for the administration. They owe the public a full explanation if they claim this wasn’t a retaliatory decision.”
It is a sad day when a public school for the arts practices censorship, fires good teachers and hires questionable vendors.