Tony Ortega: The Rebel-Rousing Student Newspaper Editor..

Smurf

Gold Meritorious SP
I was toying around on the Net & an old link caught my eye. Tony Ortega was suspended in high school fighting for his civil rights of students as the student newspaper's editor & he fought back with a lawsuit & the assistance of an ACLU attorney. I love it!!!!! :)

Painful fight for freedom - Columbia Daily Spectator, Volume CVI, Number 66, 15 February 1982

By ANDREW FRANK

Tony Ortega, now a College freshman, was a senior at his southern Californian high school when he recieved his initial education in US civil liberties. And it felt more like a lashing than a lesson. Ortega, the editor of his high school newspaper, was expelled from Savanna High School when he failed to receive approval from the school's principal before publishing an article that described the efforts of football players' parents to remove the team coach.

With the aid of an attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union, Ortega won a court ruling allowing him to return to Savanna and—in an out-of-court settlement —forced the school district t,o adopt a statute guaranteeing students' First Amendment rights. But that happened at the end of Ortega's senior year. During that time, he suffered a trauma that left marked traces on his personality/he said. After Ortega printed the controversial story in the Savanna Dispatch, Principal

Mary Franks seized all remaining copies of the paper and removed Ortega from the newspaper staff. He was expelled from Savanna when caught in the school courtyard distributing leaflets that explained the content of the article and the school's supposed motives for censoring it. Ortega said going to a new school. Western High, made him feel like "a freshman in the middle of my senior year." "For two or three months. I didn't get a single" call from my old friends." Ortega stated.

"They were so close to the administration that they just forgot me." His personality took or. a pervasive pessimism, he said, which was manifested in his newly acquired taste for Los Angeles punk rock. "The message of that music is 'I hate the world' and that's how I felt." Ortega recalled. His family sensed his mood, Ortega said. His father, a "conservative businessman." tried to help him when "he realized

his son was in trouble," Ortega said. His "very liberal stepfather," meanwhile, had contacted the American Civil Liberties Union. Enter Gary Williams, staff attorney at the ACLU southern California chapter, who said he reviewed the case and determined that "the rule requiring prior approval by the principal was clearly unconstitutional." "There was never any doubt in my mind that we were correct in respect to the laws," Williams said, adding that he "never got-the sense that (Ortega) was having second thoughts either." , Others, however, were not as sure—particularly not the judges.

Early requests by Williams for both a temporary restraining order and an injunction against the Anaheim Union District Board of Trustees, the school board that controls Savanna High, were' denied. Williams and Ortega $10,000 in damages from the Board, which initially seemed ready for a court battle. The suit was still pending in April, 1981, when a judge granted Ortega a writ of superfendens that allowed him to return to Savanna. After Ortega's graduation, however, the Board offered to settle the case out of court. Williams and Ortega dropped their suit, in

exchange for the adoption of a statute protecting District students from administrative interference. Ortega said the worst effect of the ordeal followed him to Columbia—he became indifferent towards school. "I lost all my study habits," he explained, and only "snapped out of it" when he was not pleased with his midterm grades last semester. Although the case did not establish any legal precedents, because it was settled out of court, Williams was elated by the outcome. "The case was valuable to the other students in the district," Williams said. "It will serve as a basis for further improvements inthe state," he added.

Ortega, while equally pleased by the result, said the case had taught him a great deal about journalism—and had turned him against it. Ortega's ordeal was picked up by the Los Angeles Times, ABC-TV, NBC-TV, and numerous local papers and channels. In addition, a Hollywood film producer has purchased the film rights to the story. "I've probably learned more about journalism and the legal process than I could have in any classroom." he said. "(Journalism) was so much fun in high school, but in the professional world, it's a job like any other job."

http://spectatorarchive.library.col...820215-01.2.4&e=-------en-20--1--txt-IN-----# (Great photo of rocker Tony)

"In January, Ortega filed suit seeking a temporary restraining order enabling him to return to Savanna for the remainder of the year. The lower court denied Ortega's request, and he promptly filed an appeal. "We could have asked for a trial on the merits of the case. but we decided the important thing was to get Tony back in school," ACLU attorney Gary Williams said. After eight weeks at Western, Tony returned to Savanna in April under order of the Court of Appeals, Fourth Appellate District. However, the court denied Ortega's request to be reinstated as Dispatch editor.

Ortega graduated from Savanna in June. At the same time that Ortega won his battle to return to Savanna, he also won two other victories. Columbia Univercity, where he will enroll this fall, awarded him a John Jay Fellowship. In addition, the American Student Press Association awarded its highest rating to the issue of the Dispatch which sparked the controversy. "It is ironic that they throw me out of school for yellow journalism and here I am going to Columbia,' Ortega told reporters.

Ortega still awaits a full decision on his case by the Court of Appeals, which will determine whether the Savanna High School administration violated his right to freedom of expression and due process. Williams argued before the court that the set of regulations requiring prior review of student literature is unconstitutional because it does not include "clear and precise standards for review." He also said the rules were applied unconstitutionally because Nielsen said he would not have approved the flyer, although it contained nothing libelous, obscene or likely to cause substantial disruption of school.

"There are two questions here," Williams said. "First, is the prior submission requirement legal at all? Second, is it legal as applied?" Williams contended school offici als disciplined Ortega in "retaliation for his exercise of First Amendment rights." During the disciplinary proceedings, Nielsen and Franks made frequent references to past 22 FALL 1981 SPLC REPORT conflicts they had had with Ortega over the content of the Dispatch article.

According to Ortega, Nielsen told him that Franks had taken personally his objections to her actions and indicated that if Ortega apologized to the principal, she might reverse her decision to revoke his tranfer. Ortega requested S10,000 in damages from the school board to compensate for the time he had to spend at Western. The school board rejected Ortega's request, and now he and Williams must decide whether or not to amend the suit pending before the court to include a request for damages ''I'm not sure it's worth it," Williams said.

According to Williams. the main aims of the suit are "to get the disciplinary action off Tony's record and to get a favorable judicial action with regard to school control of the paper." Williams said he believes that although the school will argue that Ortega's graduation rendered the case moot, the suit will survive even if they don't ask for damages. "Faculty responsibility with regard to student publications is an issue that will recur," he said.

http://issuu.com/splc/docs/v4n3-fall81/22

Was the story ever made into a movie??
 

WildKat

Gold Meritorious Patron
I think there's another story buried in all this, which is why were the parents trying to oust the coach in the first place, and what was the principal's connection, that he would react so severely? Maybe someone can ask Tony.....enquiring minds wanna know!:biggrin:
 
Last edited:

Purple Rain

Crusader
I was toying around on the Net & an old link caught my eye. Tony Ortega was suspended in high school fighting for his civil rights of students as the student newspaper's editor & he fought back with a lawsuit & the assistance of an ACLU attorney. I love it!!!!! :)

Painful fight for freedom - Columbia Daily Spectator, Volume CVI, Number 66, 15 February 1982

By ANDREW FRANK

Tony Ortega, now a College freshman, was a senior at his southern Californian high school when he recieved his initial education in US civil liberties. And it felt more like a lashing than a lesson. Ortega, the editor of his high school newspaper, was expelled from Savanna High School when he failed to receive approval from the school's principal before publishing an article that described the efforts of football players' parents to remove the team coach.

With the aid of an attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union, Ortega won a court ruling allowing him to return to Savanna and—in an out-of-court settlement —forced the school district t,o adopt a statute guaranteeing students' First Amendment rights. But that happened at the end of Ortega's senior year. During that time, he suffered a trauma that left marked traces on his personality/he said. After Ortega printed the controversial story in the Savanna Dispatch, Principal

Mary Franks seized all remaining copies of the paper and removed Ortega from the newspaper staff. He was expelled from Savanna when caught in the school courtyard distributing leaflets that explained the content of the article and the school's supposed motives for censoring it. Ortega said going to a new school. Western High, made him feel like "a freshman in the middle of my senior year." "For two or three months. I didn't get a single" call from my old friends." Ortega stated.

"They were so close to the administration that they just forgot me." His personality took or. a pervasive pessimism, he said, which was manifested in his newly acquired taste for Los Angeles punk rock. "The message of that music is 'I hate the world' and that's how I felt." Ortega recalled. His family sensed his mood, Ortega said. His father, a "conservative businessman." tried to help him when "he realized

his son was in trouble," Ortega said. His "very liberal stepfather," meanwhile, had contacted the American Civil Liberties Union. Enter Gary Williams, staff attorney at the ACLU southern California chapter, who said he reviewed the case and determined that "the rule requiring prior approval by the principal was clearly unconstitutional." "There was never any doubt in my mind that we were correct in respect to the laws," Williams said, adding that he "never got-the sense that (Ortega) was having second thoughts either." , Others, however, were not as sure—particularly not the judges.

Early requests by Williams for both a temporary restraining order and an injunction against the Anaheim Union District Board of Trustees, the school board that controls Savanna High, were' denied. Williams and Ortega $10,000 in damages from the Board, which initially seemed ready for a court battle. The suit was still pending in April, 1981, when a judge granted Ortega a writ of superfendens that allowed him to return to Savanna. After Ortega's graduation, however, the Board offered to settle the case out of court. Williams and Ortega dropped their suit, in

exchange for the adoption of a statute protecting District students from administrative interference. Ortega said the worst effect of the ordeal followed him to Columbia—he became indifferent towards school. "I lost all my study habits," he explained, and only "snapped out of it" when he was not pleased with his midterm grades last semester. Although the case did not establish any legal precedents, because it was settled out of court, Williams was elated by the outcome. "The case was valuable to the other students in the district," Williams said. "It will serve as a basis for further improvements inthe state," he added.

Ortega, while equally pleased by the result, said the case had taught him a great deal about journalism—and had turned him against it. Ortega's ordeal was picked up by the Los Angeles Times, ABC-TV, NBC-TV, and numerous local papers and channels. In addition, a Hollywood film producer has purchased the film rights to the story. "I've probably learned more about journalism and the legal process than I could have in any classroom." he said. "(Journalism) was so much fun in high school, but in the professional world, it's a job like any other job."

http://spectatorarchive.library.col...820215-01.2.4&e=-------en-20--1--txt-IN-----# (Great photo of rocker Tony)

"In January, Ortega filed suit seeking a temporary restraining order enabling him to return to Savanna for the remainder of the year. The lower court denied Ortega's request, and he promptly filed an appeal. "We could have asked for a trial on the merits of the case. but we decided the important thing was to get Tony back in school," ACLU attorney Gary Williams said. After eight weeks at Western, Tony returned to Savanna in April under order of the Court of Appeals, Fourth Appellate District. However, the court denied Ortega's request to be reinstated as Dispatch editor.

Ortega graduated from Savanna in June. At the same time that Ortega won his battle to return to Savanna, he also won two other victories. Columbia Univercity, where he will enroll this fall, awarded him a John Jay Fellowship. In addition, the American Student Press Association awarded its highest rating to the issue of the Dispatch which sparked the controversy. "It is ironic that they throw me out of school for yellow journalism and here I am going to Columbia,' Ortega told reporters.

Ortega still awaits a full decision on his case by the Court of Appeals, which will determine whether the Savanna High School administration violated his right to freedom of expression and due process. Williams argued before the court that the set of regulations requiring prior review of student literature is unconstitutional because it does not include "clear and precise standards for review." He also said the rules were applied unconstitutionally because Nielsen said he would not have approved the flyer, although it contained nothing libelous, obscene or likely to cause substantial disruption of school.

"There are two questions here," Williams said. "First, is the prior submission requirement legal at all? Second, is it legal as applied?" Williams contended school offici als disciplined Ortega in "retaliation for his exercise of First Amendment rights." During the disciplinary proceedings, Nielsen and Franks made frequent references to past 22 FALL 1981 SPLC REPORT conflicts they had had with Ortega over the content of the Dispatch article.

According to Ortega, Nielsen told him that Franks had taken personally his objections to her actions and indicated that if Ortega apologized to the principal, she might reverse her decision to revoke his tranfer. Ortega requested S10,000 in damages from the school board to compensate for the time he had to spend at Western. The school board rejected Ortega's request, and now he and Williams must decide whether or not to amend the suit pending before the court to include a request for damages ''I'm not sure it's worth it," Williams said.

According to Williams. the main aims of the suit are "to get the disciplinary action off Tony's record and to get a favorable judicial action with regard to school control of the paper." Williams said he believes that although the school will argue that Ortega's graduation rendered the case moot, the suit will survive even if they don't ask for damages. "Faculty responsibility with regard to student publications is an issue that will recur," he said.

http://issuu.com/splc/docs/v4n3-fall81/22

Was the story ever made into a movie??

Smurf, this is just such a great story! Thank you so much for sharing it! I, too, would love to know whether it was ever made into a movie. In any case, we are so lucky as ex-Scientologists that a journalist of that integrity and calibre has taken an interest in the abuses and intimidation tactics of Scientology. In some ways that must seem like a cakewalk compared with the fair game he has no doubt endured, but what powerful training to take on such a group!
 
I was toying around on the Net & an old link caught my eye. Tony Ortega was suspended in high school fighting for his civil rights of students as the student newspaper's editor & he fought back with a lawsuit & the assistance of an ACLU attorney. I love it!!!!! :)

Nice find!
 
I was toying around on the Net & an old link caught my eye. Tony Ortega was suspended in high school fighting for his civil rights of students as the student newspaper's editor & he fought back with a lawsuit & the assistance of an ACLU attorney. I love it!!!!! :)

Painful fight for freedom - Columbia Daily Spectator, Volume CVI, Number 66, 15 February 1982

By ANDREW FRANK

Tony Ortega, now a College freshman, was a senior at his southern Californian high school when he recieved his initial education in US civil liberties. And it felt more like a lashing than a lesson. Ortega, the editor of his high school newspaper, was expelled from Savanna High School when he failed to receive approval from the school's principal before publishing an article that described the efforts of football players' parents to remove the team coach.

With the aid of an attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union, Ortega won a court ruling allowing him to return to Savanna and—in an out-of-court settlement —forced the school district t,o adopt a statute guaranteeing students' First Amendment rights. But that happened at the end of Ortega's senior year. During that time, he suffered a trauma that left marked traces on his personality/he said. After Ortega printed the controversial story in the Savanna Dispatch, Principal

Mary Franks seized all remaining copies of the paper and removed Ortega from the newspaper staff. He was expelled from Savanna when caught in the school courtyard distributing leaflets that explained the content of the article and the school's supposed motives for censoring it. Ortega said going to a new school. Western High, made him feel like "a freshman in the middle of my senior year." "For two or three months. I didn't get a single" call from my old friends." Ortega stated.

"They were so close to the administration that they just forgot me." His personality took or. a pervasive pessimism, he said, which was manifested in his newly acquired taste for Los Angeles punk rock. "The message of that music is 'I hate the world' and that's how I felt." Ortega recalled. His family sensed his mood, Ortega said. His father, a "conservative businessman." tried to help him when "he realized

his son was in trouble," Ortega said. His "very liberal stepfather," meanwhile, had contacted the American Civil Liberties Union. Enter Gary Williams, staff attorney at the ACLU southern California chapter, who said he reviewed the case and determined that "the rule requiring prior approval by the principal was clearly unconstitutional." "There was never any doubt in my mind that we were correct in respect to the laws," Williams said, adding that he "never got-the sense that (Ortega) was having second thoughts either." , Others, however, were not as sure—particularly not the judges.

Early requests by Williams for both a temporary restraining order and an injunction against the Anaheim Union District Board of Trustees, the school board that controls Savanna High, were' denied. Williams and Ortega $10,000 in damages from the Board, which initially seemed ready for a court battle. The suit was still pending in April, 1981, when a judge granted Ortega a writ of superfendens that allowed him to return to Savanna. After Ortega's graduation, however, the Board offered to settle the case out of court. Williams and Ortega dropped their suit, in

exchange for the adoption of a statute protecting District students from administrative interference. Ortega said the worst effect of the ordeal followed him to Columbia—he became indifferent towards school. "I lost all my study habits," he explained, and only "snapped out of it" when he was not pleased with his midterm grades last semester. Although the case did not establish any legal precedents, because it was settled out of court, Williams was elated by the outcome. "The case was valuable to the other students in the district," Williams said. "It will serve as a basis for further improvements inthe state," he added.

Ortega, while equally pleased by the result, said the case had taught him a great deal about journalism—and had turned him against it. Ortega's ordeal was picked up by the Los Angeles Times, ABC-TV, NBC-TV, and numerous local papers and channels. In addition, a Hollywood film producer has purchased the film rights to the story. "I've probably learned more about journalism and the legal process than I could have in any classroom." he said. "(Journalism) was so much fun in high school, but in the professional world, it's a job like any other job."

http://spectatorarchive.library.col...820215-01.2.4&e=-------en-20--1--txt-IN-----# (Great photo of rocker Tony)

"In January, Ortega filed suit seeking a temporary restraining order enabling him to return to Savanna for the remainder of the year. The lower court denied Ortega's request, and he promptly filed an appeal. "We could have asked for a trial on the merits of the case. but we decided the important thing was to get Tony back in school," ACLU attorney Gary Williams said. After eight weeks at Western, Tony returned to Savanna in April under order of the Court of Appeals, Fourth Appellate District. However, the court denied Ortega's request to be reinstated as Dispatch editor.

Ortega graduated from Savanna in June. At the same time that Ortega won his battle to return to Savanna, he also won two other victories. Columbia Univercity, where he will enroll this fall, awarded him a John Jay Fellowship. In addition, the American Student Press Association awarded its highest rating to the issue of the Dispatch which sparked the controversy. "It is ironic that they throw me out of school for yellow journalism and here I am going to Columbia,' Ortega told reporters.

Ortega still awaits a full decision on his case by the Court of Appeals, which will determine whether the Savanna High School administration violated his right to freedom of expression and due process. Williams argued before the court that the set of regulations requiring prior review of student literature is unconstitutional because it does not include "clear and precise standards for review." He also said the rules were applied unconstitutionally because Nielsen said he would not have approved the flyer, although it contained nothing libelous, obscene or likely to cause substantial disruption of school.

"There are two questions here," Williams said. "First, is the prior submission requirement legal at all? Second, is it legal as applied?" Williams contended school offici als disciplined Ortega in "retaliation for his exercise of First Amendment rights." During the disciplinary proceedings, Nielsen and Franks made frequent references to past 22 FALL 1981 SPLC REPORT conflicts they had had with Ortega over the content of the Dispatch article.

According to Ortega, Nielsen told him that Franks had taken personally his objections to her actions and indicated that if Ortega apologized to the principal, she might reverse her decision to revoke his tranfer. Ortega requested S10,000 in damages from the school board to compensate for the time he had to spend at Western. The school board rejected Ortega's request, and now he and Williams must decide whether or not to amend the suit pending before the court to include a request for damages ''I'm not sure it's worth it," Williams said.

According to Williams. the main aims of the suit are "to get the disciplinary action off Tony's record and to get a favorable judicial action with regard to school control of the paper." Williams said he believes that although the school will argue that Ortega's graduation rendered the case moot, the suit will survive even if they don't ask for damages. "Faculty responsibility with regard to student publications is an issue that will recur," he said.

http://issuu.com/splc/docs/v4n3-fall81/22

Was the story ever made into a movie??

Great story of a great man!
 

Smurf

Gold Meritorious SP
I think there's another story buried in all this, which is why were the parents trying to oust the coach in the first place, and what was the principal's connection, that he would react so severely? Maybe someone can ask Tony.....enquiring minds wanna know!:biggrin:

The back story, as far as I can tell, from reading archived reports, is that the issue with Tony lied with his publishing an article in the student newspaper without getting approval first, from high school administrators, i.e., administrators wanted to be in the position of approving what could & could not be published in the student newspaper. This violated Tony's & the ACLU's understanding of the U.S. Constitution has it's applied to journalistic integrity.

news2.jpg
(The Rebel Writer)

"The chain of events leading to the lawsuit started last month when Ortega as Editor-in-Chief approved publication of an article by reporter Gary Kuhn. In the article Kuhn quoted angry statements by unnamed parents made against Savanna football coach Jim Everett during a meeting with Principal Franks.

Kuhn was invited to this meeting by the parents. He spoke with Franks of the subject matter of the story but Franks said, "I did not know Gary would be at the meeting until I arrived." Franks, however, stated that she wanted to see the article before publication. Ortega felt that Franks was not followig procedure and that she was not entitled to censorship of the article."

http://www.jollinger.com/dispatch/issues/Vol_19_No_4/v19n4.html

The question of law & constitutional interpretation of the balance of power between student journalists & school administration is not new & continues to be a sticking point today in school districts across the nation.

The issue with parent's wanting to oust football coach Jim Everett had to do, as far as I can tell, was the coach's inability to stymie the losing streak of Savanna high school's football team.

"Since the late 1970s, Savanna football has been one of the county's top tragicomedies. The Rebels suffered through season-long scoreless streaks. Coaches came and went like window shoppers. And, for the most part, players embraced the attitude of Winnie the Pooh's friend Eeyore--they were positively pessimistic.

The brutal reality: From 1978 through 1988, Savanna's overall record was 18-79-1."

http://articles.latimes.com/1991-11-13/sports/sp-1429_1_savanna-football
 
Top