The Har-Ber Herald faces suspension after publishing an investigation into football transfers


Erica Roman

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Laney Hoggatt, Co Editor-in-Chief

On Oct. 30, the Har-Ber Herald published an investigative story that questioned the transfer of five starting football players. The five players transferred to the district’s other school and Har-Ber’s rival: Springdale High School. While many students found the transfers suspicious, it was not until Springdale beat Har-Ber for the first time in 11 years that students really began to question the transfer; especially considering the game-winning touchdown was scored by one of the five transfers.

The Arkansas Activities Association has very strict rules about transfers. The only way a transfer player would be allowed on the team is if they were transferring for academic reasons. The players claimed to be transferring for academic purposes. Their parents each wrote letters to the Arkansas Activities Association stating that the five boys transferred to better their learning experiences and that the board should allow their children to play for Springdale. The request was approved.

The Herald questioned the transfer. They interviewed two of the transfers and asked them why they chose to go to Springdale. Much to their surprise, the boys admitted on the record that they did it to better their chances in football, not academics. The newspaper also described a video that was posted of one of the players at a bonfire with his father and the Springdale football coach. According to the Harber Herald, they are burning their Har-Ber gear and the father is talking down about the Har-Ber football coach in the video.
The story became the talk of the school after it’s publication. The newspaper received both positive and negative comments. The Springdale School District demanded the article be taken down immediately. The newspaper took it down in hopes that they could republish it later: however, the student ran paper was told by Har-Ber High School Principal Paul Griep that the paper was suspended from publishing until the district could form new policies for student papers. He also stated that if the newspaper staff chose to publish during their suspension, the newspaper adviser, Karla Sprague, would be fired.

Arkansas is one of 14 states that has a law protecting student journalists: Arkansas Student Publications Act. This law states that as long as the story is fair, just, and accurate, students cannot face repercussions for publishing and can keep their story published.

On Tuesday, Dec 4., the school district released the following statement: “After continued consideration of the legal landscape, the Springdale School District has concluded that the Har-Ber Herald articles may be reposted. This matter is complex, challenging and has merited thorough review. The social and emotional well-being of all students has been and continues to be a priority of the district.” While the statement mentions the articles and allows them to be republished, it does not mention the newspaper’s suspension. At the time of publication, we do not know if the paper has been allowed to post again.

Due to the popularity of the Herald article and the fact that it claims that there were transfers that broke the set rules, Springdale may face penalties from The Arkansas Activities Association. The Arkansas Activities Association has penalties for schools that break rules. The first penalty is a warning. By receiving a warning, the school will have to forfeit all their games and awards received. The second penalty is Probation. If Springdale receives this, they will have to forfeit all their games and awards received as well as the suspension of a player and/or a school employee. The third penalty is suspension where they will have to forfeit all their games and awards received and the program will be suspended for the next season. The final penalty is rare. It is expulsion. If Springdale receives this, the school will have to forfeit all their games and awards received and their program will be terminated. As of right now, no penalties have been issued.

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