Community Members Attend School Board Meeting, Voice Opinions over Controversy in MVHS Oracle

Numerous members of the community attended the school board meeting last night, March 11, to voice their opinions for or against the recent series of articles published by the Mountain View High School (MVHS) Oracle.

Controversy broke out after The Oracle published a center spread titled “Sex and Relationships” in February. A number of parents and community members felt that the coverage discussed these topics in an inappropriate manner, and many spoke at the board meeting last month on Monday, February 11.

However, last night people on both sides packed the Spartan Theater to observe and participate in the meeting. First, the journalism programs at both schools gave a presentation about their classes and papers. The advisors and the editors-in-chief talked about the goals of the papers, the structure of the classes and the role of the advisors.

After they finished, the board’s legal counsel presented the legal issues surrounding student press. As many parents had called for increased advisor, administration and community oversight of the paper’s content in the previous board meeting, the district’s legal counsel spoke about the legal rights of student journalists as well as the powers of the school district.

More than 40 people then spoke to the board to give their viewpoints. While many parents and community voiced legal and ethical concerns over the content of the paper, others defended The Oracle and its content. In addition, Oracle writers and editors spoke about the process and the goals for the spread and defended their choices.

Those against the spread argued that among other things, the content was not only too explicit for younger readers but also encouraged sexual behavior among teens. They said that it failed to impart the appropriate values, which many also felt was the parents’ job to convey. Other people who supported the spread argued that it is important to cover controversial issues, and that the topic of sex is relevant because it affects teenagers. They said that The Oracle offered teens a reliable source of information on a topic that some teenagers and parents are not able to discuss in an open way.

The board then clarified some issues both with Superintendent Dr. Barry Groves and their legal counsel. Some members also voiced their opinions on the issue.

Groves said that if he had seen the paper prior to publication, he would not have censored any of the content but would have provided recommendations on changes he felt should have been made. The board took no action on the issue.