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Pa. School Board Revises Student Paper's Ban on 'Redskins' Nickname

The Neshaminy (Pa.) school board approved a policy Thursday that allows editors of the district's student newspaper, The Playwickian, to remove the school's "Redskins" nickname in all pieces aside from editorials or letters to the editor.

The board voted 8-1 in favor of the new policy, according to the Student Press Law Center, which specifies that the use of the term "Redskins" when referring to the district's mascot "shall not be construed as a racial or ethnic slur." The policy prevents a student editor from being disciplined for removal of the term, but notes that any student who uses the term in an article and has it removed can appeal to the high school's principal, who has "final authority" in the matter.

Gillian McGoldrick, The Playwickian's co-editor-in-chief, told the Student Press Law Center that the paper's staff isn't satisfied with the school board's ruling.

"We're definitely going to pursue it, it's just a matter of how," McGoldrick said. "We need to decide what our next step is going to be. We're not just going to let this happen, we're going to keep fighting it."

Last fall, the paper's editorial board voted 14-7 to stop using the term in any article. "The change is not being encouraged for the sake of political correctness itself, but for the sake of being respectful and fair to an entire race," the board majority wrote in an unsigned editorial. The seven dissenting voters wrote a counter editorial in the same issue of the paper, defending not the name itself, but the school's specific usage of it.

The school's principal, Rob McGee, temporarily overturned the ban a few days after the publication of those editorials, saying it was placed "on hold" until the administration could "determine that a school newspaper has such authority and that this policy does not infringe on the rights of others."

In June, the ongoing battle added another chapter, as a Neshaminy senior football player wrote a letter to the paper defending the use of the nickname. The Playwickian staff ran the letter, but changed "Redskins" to "R-------." The school's administration then ordered the paper to run the letter in full, which resulted in the students pulling the letter entirely, according to The Morning Call.

Under the policy approved by the board on Thursday, the editors must now submit their paper to the principal 10 days in advance of publication for prior review, as opposed to their current three-day period.

McGoldrick expressed particular frustration with that portion of the new policy, telling the Student Press Law Center "it's just going to be impractical to call ourselves a newspaper anymore."

She didn't rule out the possibility of pursuing a lawsuit after the board's ruling, according to CBS Philly.

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