Maury High School, Norfolk, Va.

Virginia district removes student video that shows crumbling conditions at school

July 5, 2019
Video of Maury High in Norfolk was recorded for a broadcast news class, but district officials removed it from the school's YouTube channel.

A video report by students showing the crumbling conditions at the oldest high school in Virginia has been removed from the school's Youtube channel.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that students Douglas Deutsch and Jalen Rogers recorded the video for a broadcast news class at Maury High School in Norfolk.

The report was posted in late May, but within days, administrators ordered the removal of the video from the school's YouTube channel. The students' segment on the facility and the entire broadcast, which featured other news stories, was deleted.

The deletion surprised Deutsch, who said he and Rogers put a lot of effort into the video and tried to “keep it as objective as possible.” Maury, built in 1910, is the third-oldest continuously operating school in Virginia and its oldest high school.

District spokeswoman Khalilah LeGrand says, “the students did nothing wrong.” The school’s principal and the district’s executive director of secondary schools reviewed the video after it was posted and “collaboratively made the decision” to take it down, LeGrand says.

In Virginia, school administrators have broad latitude when it comes to censoring student speech, but courts have said they must have an educational justification for doing so, says Mark Goodman, a professor of scholastic journalism at Kent State University who served for 22 years as executive director of the Student Press Law Center.

“A factually accurate story about a school building, I can imagine some judges saying that is not an educationally reasonable justification for censorship,” Goodman said.

In Norfolk, a 2017 facilities study identified $124 million in immediate needs, a total that didn’t include any work at Maury. 

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