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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Nose rings, yearbooks and drones

Uploaded: Dec 11, 2012
The American Civil Liberties Union has bubbled to the surface in two issues recently.
One concerned the yearbook picture that Amador Valley High senior Kenton Koos submitted. It showed him with tattoos (temporary) on his face and a large nose ring.
School officials initially rejected the picture and Koos took the issue public so the ACLU weighed in on freedom of the student press.
The district and school leadership finally relented and will allow the picture. The challenge for the Amador administration is that there was no written policy governing yearbook pictures. It is rather amazing that the school, which will celebrate its 90th birthday next year, hasn't encountered a similar controversy in all of these years. Needless to say, a policy is now being written.
As for the ACLU, it's entirely appropriate for the school to establish guidelines for photos in a yearbook. Kenton or any of us is free to dress or tattoo ourselves as we will and walk down the street—but the decision on what to include belongs to the editor and ultimately the publisher (in this case, the school).
When I edited the local paper my decisions were rarely subject to review by the publisher, but that's where the ultimate responsibility laid—in that office, not mine. Over the years, I worked for a number of senior editors and publishers and rarely, rarely did news decisions hit the publishers' office.
That said, we all understood where the buck stopped.
The ACLU also reared up at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors' meeting when Sheriff Department's plan to accept a $32,000 grant was short circuited. After whining from the ACLU, the proposal was shifted to go through the board's public safety committee and then, presumably, back to the board itself.
The drone would have been utilized for a variety of functions including search-and-rescue, missing children, wildfires, but also for dealing with disturbances with large crowds, barricaded suspects, investigative and tactical surveillance and intelligence gathering.
ACLU attorney Linda Lye said surveillance and intelligence amounted to spying. That's certainly one viewpoint—another is that they are important to quality law enforcement. Officers have worked undercover for years to gain intelligence—this time the department would utilize modern technology to help inform its actions.
Using a drone instead of a manned helicopter to assess crowds or wildlife and potentially cover lots of ground in a search is an excellent use of both state-of-the-art technology and resources.
The supervisors should approve the grant and let the sheriff's department get on with what could be a very helpful tool for the citizens of Alameda County.

Comments

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School,
on Dec 11, 2012 at 10:11 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

So Tim, if the student has a permanent tattoo and nose ring, then what? Remember the principal's quote was essentially, it's not how he normally looks. So will the policy say: If you are a clean cut looking student, you must be clean cut looking in your photo; however, if you have permanent tattoos and piercings, that's okay. This doesn't require a policy--who cares what he looks like in the photo? I don't like my yearbook photos or driver's license photo, despite having appeared as I "normally" do.


Posted by nancy s., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Dec 11, 2012 at 10:51 am

nancy s. is a registered user.

@Kathleen

Point is, if that is how Kenton ALWAYS dressed, etc. there would not have been an issue of the picture in the yearbook. He went out of his way to look ridiculous, evening saying it was a joke, to make a mockery of the yearbook process. You show me him walking around tatted and nose ringed like that everyday, including at work, and I say put the picture in the yearbook. Otherwise, do the regular picture. Or better yet now, use his mug shot.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School,
on Dec 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Again, why does anyone care how anyone looks in a yearbook photo? As to the mug shot, looks like the family will sadly have other issues to deal with legally.


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