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School Paper Adviser Resigns Over Cartoon

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A teacher at Diamond Bar High School who approved publication of a cartoon satirizing former LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman has stepped down as journalism adviser of the award-winning school newspaper after a group of parents criticized the drawing as being racially insensitive.

Joe Moran resigned from the position in a letter submitted late Thursday to Principal Robert Corkrum. But Moran said Friday that he will continue to teach English and coach the school’s Academic Decathlon team.

“I resigned to remove myself from the situation,” Moran said. “It seemed to me that I was becoming a target and impeding a discussion of real issues that need to be resolved. So I decided to get out of the way.”

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Some parents and students who had called for Moran’s removal applauded his decision. But others wondered why the paper’s veteran adviser, who guided the prize-winning Bull’s Eye for nine years, should have to quit. The newspaper won three first-place awards in the past four years from the Southern California Journalism Education Assn.

Members of the Council of African American Parents said they were pleased that Moran would no longer be supervising the paper.

Group member Robert Waters said that printing the cartoon, which included a truncated racial epithet, was “extremely insensitive.”

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Moran said he stands by his decision. He contends that the cartoon was sarcastic commentary against racism. Some teachers also stood up for him.

“This newspaper went from fluff to journalism when Mr. Moran took over,” teacher Carole Scanlon said. “If you make kids try to think about issues the way Mr. Moran has done, this is what happens.”

The editor in chief, Daniel Chung, 17, said the staff was sorry to see Moran go but his departure would help ease tensions.

“Mr. Moran’s resignation was basically a sacrifice,” Chung said.

The parent group has also asked for more African American staff and increased dialogue among different racial groups at the school.

Meanwhile, Moran said he plans to lay low.

“I was in Vietnam,” he said. “I learned when you get shot at, the best thing to do is duck, so I’m ducking out of the way . . . We want it all to just go away.”


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