Choir teacher files libel suit against school, newspaper

A teacher at Churchill County High School in Nevada filed a lawsuit against the Churchill County High School district, among others, claiming an article in the student newspaper, The Flash, has damaged her reputation.

The suit was filed by Kathy Archey, a music teacher at CCHS, on March 5. The article was published in the January issue of The Flash after two grievances were filed against the school district by the teachers’ union on behalf of Archey in order to prevent the publication of the article.

The article, written by Flash reporter Lauren MacLean, highlighted a parent who discovered evidence that CCHS choir director Kathy Archey allegedly did not submit an unknown number of student audition tapes to the Music Educators Association Honor for the All State Choir program. Archey did not comment for the article, but the suit denies the allegations and says she submitted all voice tapes for students who qualified, and has followed the same procedure for years.

Among the defendants are district Superintendent Carolyn Ross, CCHS Principal Kevin Lords, journalism adviser Myke Nelson, and Steve Ranson, editor of the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard newspaper.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Lords disputed the allegations. In past interviews, both Lords and Ross have said it would have been a violation of the First Amendment had they blocked publication of the article.

The suit claims that Nelson directed MacLean to the story because his son was one of the students who did not qualify for the Honors Choir and blames the article for allegedly ending plans by Archey and her husband to open a restaurant in Churchill County.

The suit seeks damages in excess of $10,000 from the defendants.