Oshkosh high school newspaper story sparks controversy

OSHKOSH – A story written by a high school newspaper reporter has prompted questions about the district’s student media policy and its adherence to the state’s open records law, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Brock Doemel, Oshkosh North High School
Brock Doemel

After the apparent resignation of Oshkosh North High School’s assistant principal, senior Brock Doemel reported the disappearance was related to a recent incident involving locked bathrooms at the school. In his story, he attributed the information to a district administrator.

An hour after it was posted to The North Star website, the story was removed. A statement from the school’s principal said the story was taken down because it didn’t include “credible information or sources” and it wasn’t approved by the school district.

Doemel was then pulled out of class multiple times by the principal and questioned about his sources. He refused to disclose any information about his sources and told the Journal Sentinel he stands by the accuracy of his story.

Two days later, Doemel and fellow North Star staffer Tess Fitzhenry filed an open records request seeking documents related to Nelson’s departure. In response, the district said the request would cost $138.83, and their reporting notes.

Fitzhenry’s father, who also is vice president of news for USA TODAY NETWORK-Central Wisconsin, paid the fee, but the students refused to disclose any notes.

The incident also prompted discussion during a recent school board meeting, during which the board president said the body would review the district’s policy on student publications.

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