Thirty years ago, in 1988, the school administration and board were defending a lawsuit over editorial control of the high school magazine, Lodestar. Colorful lawyer William Laviano took on the student magazine’s case and drove the school board crazy, all the while running up legal fees. The three year battle cost the board $400,000. What a mess!

School authorities seem to be handling things somewhat better in the current controversy over content in a student publication, The Ridgefielder. Guardians of the school’s image, they may have reacted a bit defensively after students published articles and editorials exposing racist and anti-Semitic incidents, calling student writers to the office and questioning them on fact-checking practices. Maybe they overlooked how being called to the office can feel to students, like the magazine writers, who aren’t accustomed to getting in any kind of trouble at school.

But the administration didn’t discipline the students, and properly asserted continuing support for “the inclusion of sensitive, negative or difficult topics in the school newspaper.”

And all involved — the school administration, student writers, Martin Luther King Day speakers, parents, and townspeople — can agree that racism, anti-Semitism and other bigotry have no place in Ridgefield High School, other Ridgefield schools, the town of Ridgefield, or our nation.

That’s the value Ridgefielders must stand for — together.