William Penn High School
Region: North America
Medium: Painting, Education
Artist: Stephen Halko
Confronting Bodies: The Assistant Principal at William Penn High School
Dates of Action: 1995
Location: New Castle, Delaware
Description of Artwork: Halko's, Standing Nude Female is a frontal view sketch of a nude female from the neck down.
The Incident: The school's art instructor, Richard Sharpe, chose Halko's drawing for an exhibit recognizing students for their academic achievements. Hours before the awards ceremony and exhibit were scheduled to begin, Assistant Principal, Donald Siffon, ordered Sharpe to remove Halko's drawing, suggesting that the nude image was inappropriate and potentially offensive to exhibit attendees. Siffon removed the work himself.
Results of Incident: Several students protested the piece's removal. Halko's parents threatened to call the police if the work was not returned. Principal William Roberts returned the piece and told Halko to remove it from school grounds. Halko contacted the ACLU, who advised the school to develop a policy to prevent such removals.
Source: Artistic Freedom Under Attack, 1996