Halle Roberts is the editor-in-chief of the Har-Ber Herald, the school newspaper for Springdale High School in Arkansas. The 17-year-old student was suspended after she wrote an investigative piece criticizing the transfer of five football players to a rival school.
Players are not allowed to be transferred to a different school because they would like to play for a different team. They are allowed to transfer only for academic reasons. So Roberts got to digging. Her paper filed FOIA requests and received official information from the Arkansas Activities Association saying that the students were transferred for academic reasons. However, the students themselves said otherwise.
Roberts quoted one student in her paper saying:
"We just want to go over there because we have a better chance of getting scholarships and playing at D1."
Another student told Roberts:
"I just feel like it's better for my future to go out there and get college looks."
Soon after the report was published, the superintendent of the district, Jim Rollins, asked the teacher advisor for the school paper, Karla Sprague, to take the story down. She obliged.
Rollins wrote a letter stating that the piece was:
"intentionally negative, demeaning, derogatory, hurtful and potentially harmful to the students addressed in those articles."
Roberts, undeterred, is still working on a new edition of the story that includes the school's censorship.
Mike Hiestand of the Student Press Law Center had this to say:
"School officials at this point seem to me to have completely thrown up their hands and said, ‘we’re not going to l… https://t.co/PgVYFlVAlM— Amber Jamieson (@Amber Jamieson)1543687827.0
And Halle Roberts, who dreams of being an ESPN reporter, stated:
“They are like ‘well you raised an uproar, we’re going to try and silence you,’” said Halle Roberts, 17, the editor… https://t.co/6dKFeF0so4— Amber Jamieson (@Amber Jamieson)1543690272.0
People were impressed with Roberts.
@hallecole21 @BuzzFeedNews I'm so proud of you! You're not just fighting for yourself, you're fighting for student… https://t.co/hjVIvzstZ1— Lisa Daily 🌸 (@Lisa Daily 🌸)1543718652.0
@hallecole21 @BuzzFeedNews I shared your story on my Facebook page and am so proud of you kids for telling the stor… https://t.co/9gekpHSwey— Derryl Trujillo (@Derryl Trujillo)1543694164.0
@hallecole21 @BuzzFeedNews Keep up the fight Halle!!— Katie Maner (@Katie Maner)1543762811.0
@BuzzFeedNews @hallecole21 .@hallecole21 the free press and the 1st Amendment are key 🇺🇸 values. Thank you for bei… https://t.co/Ns31sdW4yv— michael petricone (@michael petricone)1543704142.0
Some had harsh words for the school's administration.
@BuzzFeedNews @KatinaParon The principal and the superintendent should be fired, not the teacher. And the students… https://t.co/AfE6JTmowp— Jody Beck (@Jody Beck)1543754569.0
@ambiej @BuzzFeedNews Abuse of power by the school administration— Lovehersports50 (@Lovehersports50)1543686742.0
@ambiej Hey @sdaleschools School board members. Why are you allowing Arkansas Har-Ber High School Principal Paul Gr… https://t.co/8pdT0St1FO— Nancy Levine (@Nancy Levine)1543693785.0
And most had high praise for Roberts and the other student journalists working on this piece.
A great example of investigate student journalism, and why it needs more recognition. https://t.co/s4MBLn0HiN— Gabija Gataveckaite (@Gabija Gataveckaite)1543692451.0
Much to appreciate about @ambiej’s reporting on this Arkansas school district’s effort to suppress a high school pa… https://t.co/fIk5vTaWCZ— Pat Berry (@Pat Berry)1543688372.0
High school students do real journalism, school district immediately tries to shut them down, despite state law gua… https://t.co/HqOgXTv1bl— Jeff Amy (@Jeff Amy)1543692270.0
Oh this is the good stuff. I love this editor. Great work. Stand for journalists. https://t.co/QlrTTzrqs8— Scott Lewis (@Scott Lewis)1543693549.0
And Halle Roberts herself closed by saying:
thank you so much. #freedomofthepress https://t.co/LsjWT7nycD— halle roberts (@halle roberts)1543685392.0
Fight on, Halle!