Teachers' union seeks to prevent publication of critical article in Nev. student paper

NEVADA — Churchill County High School’s The Flash willgo forward with publication this Friday, despite a grievance that has been filedagainst the Churchill County School District by the teachers’ union requestingthe prevention of publication and distribution of a student article included inthe newspaper.

The grievance was filed after Flash reporter Lauren MacLean wrote astory about parent who discovered evidence that CCHS choir director Kathy Archeyallegedly did not submit an unknown number of student audition tapes to theMusic Educators Association Honor for the All State Choir program. The parentshave since asked the school to investigate the audition process.

“As a journalist I’m supposed to tell the truth. They call journalists ‘thewatchdog’ and it’s not necessarily that I wanted to be the watchdog of thissituation. I just wanted to inform the students and parents of [CCHS], and thecommunity, what was going on,” MacLean said.

Dr. Carolyn Ross, Churchill County superintendent of schools, said thegrievance, filed on behalf of Archey, indicated a disagreement regarding whetheror not information regarding teachers and their performance should be public.

“The students and the administration at [CCHS] feel that there is freedomof press and freedom of speech and that as long as someone’s rights are notbeing violated…[they] should be able to say what they want to say, even ifothers disagree with the content of what they’re saying,” said Ross. “[However]the teacher’s union feels that the rights of the individual and their career isbeing damaged by what’s being said about the person.”

According to Ross, the Churchill County Education Association has filed agrievance with the school district on behalf of Archey. The grievance alsorequests that the district “cease and desist from violating the terms of theMaster Agreement” between the district and the union under Art. XI-8 TeacherProtection, and that the district take “any and all other remedies necessary tomake the Grievant whole.”

Art. XI-8 states: “No teacher shall be disciplined, suspended, reduced inrank or compensation, adversely evaluated in a manner which could affect theteacher’s employment or lead to dismissal or non-renewal, transferred,dismissed, not-renewed, terminate or otherwise deprived of any professionaladvantage without just cause.”

A representative from the Churchill County Education Association could notbe reached by press time.

“Because of the scrutiny, there has been a grievance filed at my level, butI think it’s going to be turned around and filed at the principal’s level. Thereare great, even additional energies, time, and other resources being spent onthis, and I’m just real regretful,” Ross said.

The outcome she wants from all of this is to “move forward” and for therenot to be “consequences when information is shared.”

Ross said MacLean’s article seems appropriate.

“Our principal believes it’s appropriate, our legal adviser, our attorneyhas reviewed it and [it] seems appropriate. While it’s not flattering, we don’tsee that it’s damaging.”

CCHS Principal Kevin Lords, who read the article during the school’s priorreview process, said he approved publication of the story because he felt therewas nothing that needed to be censored.

“My feeling is that the reporter has used facts in her report and has nottaken… a side, even though it’s one-sided because the other side has refusedto comment,” Lords said.

MacLean said she hopes other high school journalists can learn from hersituation.