On February 9, 2010 the ACLU of Nevada sent a letter applauding Churchill County High School for publishing a student article about a teacher in the school’s newspaper, despite attempts to block the article by the county’s Education Association.
The article, written by senior Lauren Mac Lean, reported complaints about the school’s music teacher who allegedly withheld students’ audition tapes from a prestigious state choir competition. The incident, dubbed “Choirgate,” sparked criticism and outrage from parents whose children’s tapes were not sent to the competition. MacLean wanted to write an article that brought to light parents’ complaints and students’ disappointment about not being given a chance to compete.
The Churchill County Education Association tried to block publication of the article, claiming it would hurt the music teacher’s reputation. However, the high school Principal Kevin Lords and the district Superintendent Carolyn Ross both recognized the First Amendment implications of refusing to publish the article. Because of their decision to respect student journalism, Lauren’s article ran in the school’s student paper, “The Flash,” and provided students with a real-world example of constitutional principles in action.
The ACLU of Nevada applauds Principal Lords and Superintendent Ross for their decision to stand up for the First Amendment by permitting the student paper to serve its function of informing the school community about topics of interest.
- ACLU of Nevada's letter to Principal Lords and Superintendent Ross, mailed 2/9/2010
- Lauren’s article, reprinted by the Lahontan Valley News
- Teachers’ union fights Nevada school newspaper, Las Vegas Sun, 1/28.2010
- EDITORIAL: Censorship lesson: Teachers union tries to silence Fallon student, Las Vegas Review Journal, 1/29/2010
- Churchill High paper to publish complaints about teacher despite union grievance - Reno Gazette-Journal, 1/29/2010