2008-04-11 / Front Page

Charge 'Censorship' By BCHS Principal

By Nicholas Briano

A Beach Channel High School senior, who is in the top one percent of his class, became a victim of censorship in a public school this week when the artwork he submitted for the school's yearbook was stripped from the near-published book after Principal David Morris compared his images to "soft pornography," the student and his parent charge.

The artwork that BCHS principal David Morris found objectionable has been removed from the yearbook, along with all of the other work done by Mizzi.
The 17-year-old senior, Gregory Mizzi, who will be attending Brooklyn College next fall, told The Wave that he submitted several anime-style drawings to the yearbook for publication. According to Mizzi, his artwork was submitted prior to the deadline.

Mizzi and his mother stated that Morris said that he personally found the artwork objectionable. He "threatened to rip every one of the six drawings from the yearbook personally," according to the student.

Department of Education spokesperson, Margie Feinberg, told The Wave this week that any principal reserves the right to hold material from the yearbook, should he or she believe that the material is offensive.

Some of the work created by Mizzi was reportedly not found objectionable, but was removed anyway.
"It is true that the principal found the drawings objectionable, along with his administration and several parents," Feinberg said. "He feels the drawings are too graphic and plans to eliminate the pictures. It is his prerogative."

And, although Morris reportedly found "only one or two" of the images offensive, he decided to throw all of them out of the book, angering Mizzi.

"I think he's just throwing a hissy fit," Mizzi said angrily. "I can't stand the guy anymore; my work was the only one that he took out. I have been pretty mad this past week."

According to Mizzi's mother, Loree, her husband has been a teacher at Beach Channel for 17 years and was given the responsibility to work on the 2008 yearbook. However, when he came in last week and tried to log into the yearbook's website to continue working, his entry to the site was denied, as were the entries of the entire student committee. All of their passwords had been stripped from the system by Morris, the student charges.

"He called my husband into the office and said that he found a certain picture objectionable and that all the other pictures were fine," she said.

She continued that, despite Morris telling her husband that only one piece of art was tainted, he still insisted on removing all of Mizzi's work from the yearbook. Morris then handed supervision of the nearly-completed yearbook to another teacher.

"He told my husband that one picture was in question," Loree Mizzi said. "Now all of a sudden everything is offending him. I think he is abusing his power and overstepping boundaries by removing Gregory's work and taking away the yearbook from my husband after he worked on it for months."

Loree feels that not only is her son a victim of censorship and abuse of authority, but believes things could have been said and handled differently, rather than insulting one of the brightest kids in the entire school, by stripping him of all his expressive talents.

Morris remains mum on why he didn't just remove the one image that he initially found distasteful.

"He refuses to say why he removed every single piece of work my son has submitted," she said. "He won't say anything."

She reports that her son is very upset, angry, and a bit confused about the principal's motives, and about why he even saw the artwork as offensive in the first place, considering the wonderful things Morris usually says about Gregory and her husband.

"I don't think it is a personal vendetta towards either my son or husband, because he has praised them in the past for the wonderful examples they set for the school."

Mizzi just doesn't understand why his principal would still insist on taking out everything that he spent hours working on, when very few people inside the school had problems with it.

"Nobody but Morris thinks the pictures are objectionable," he said. "This is just wrong and insulting. People in school think the pictures are fine. I even had a freshman come up to me and ask me why they were taken out."

Despite his anger towards his principal, Mizzi said he will still attend graduation, but only because his parents and family want to see him graduate.

His mother feels all this could have been easily avoided, if Morris had discussed this with her son and tried to come up with reasonable alternatives.

"I absolutely think he could have compromised with Gregory," she said. "This could have been done in a more adult-like and respectful manner towards my son."

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