Student editor protests demise of newspaper class

The student editor-in-chief of MavLife, La Costa Canyon High School's student newspaper, is protesting the cutting of the journalism class after recent controversial coverage.

The student editor-in-chief of MavLife, La Costa Canyon High School’s student newspaper, is protesting the cutting of the journalism class after recent controversial coverage.

Jessica LaFontaine

The student staff members of La Costa Canyon High School’s campus newspaper are struggling to keep the course alive for the next school year.

After controversial coverage was published in MavLife, the school newspaper, the journalism course was removed for the fall because of low enrollment numbers, administration said. However, Editor-in-Chief Megan Mineiro says she questions if the coverage is the real reason.

The coverage, published in March, discussed a controversial decision by the administration to replace Athletic Director Kari DiGiulio with Assistant Principal Doug Kamon, who would fulfill the position’s duties in addition to those of assistant principal.

An editorial stated that La Costa Canyon would be the only high school in North County to have a football program with no designated athletic director. It also said that Kamon would be performing the combined duties with a salary of $110,000 instead of the previous salary of $80,000 paid to DiGiulio.

Mineiro said that since the decision was made to cut the journalism class due to low enrollment, staff members have recruited 11 more students, making the class enrollment 37 students for next year. This year’s class has 40 students.

Mineiro said Principal Kyle Ruggles has been supportive in the past.

“He always worked with us before on getting enrollment numbers up. Now, it seems like he’s just not willing to help,” she said.

But Ruggles said that despite speculation, the journalism class was not cut because of the coverage.

“If you look at the last four years and look at the articles that have been written, this is nothing compared to some of the articles that have been written in my first couple of years as principal,” Ruggles said.

Ruggles said that, in recent years, the journalism class designed a new award called the Doctor Kyle Ruggles press freedom award, stating that he “shows courage for scholastic press freedom.”

“The placard hangs in my office,” Ruggles said.

The student staff of the newspaper has appealed the decision to the San Dieguito Union High School District Board of Trustees at the superintendent level and is waiting to hear a verdict.

Ruggles said he does not know when the board will come to a decision. Unless the board says otherwise, the journalism class will be changed from a for-credit class to an extracurricular after-school group.

“I think that changing it to an after-school program would make it very difficult and probably destroy the paper,” Mineiro said.

Mineiro said the course is in session from 40 to 45 hours a month, not including the 20 to 25 hours the editors spend after school to produce the paper.

“I just don’t think we would be able to get enough people and it would conflict with other extracurriculars,” Mineiro said.

Mineiro isn’t the only one who believes the paper might not make it as an after-school activity.

“I would think that not giving grades to the class makes it optional. The fact that it is for-credit is essential,” freelance journalist Tiffany Fox said. “At such a young age, programs like these are crucial to get kids passionate about what they’re going to pursue as a career.”

Regardless of whether the paper becomes an extracurricular activity, Ruggles said he wants to see the paper succeed and continue at La Costa Canyon High School. He said that he wants students to be able to put the newspaper on their applications for colleges so that they can move forward in the field.

“I will do anything in my power to try to make it work in an after-school setting,” Ruggles said.

Jessica LaFontaine is a North County freelance writer