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

NEVADA -- Churchill County High School's The Flash will go forward with publication this Friday, despite a grievance that has been filed against the Churchill County School District by the teachers' union requesting the prevention of publication and distribution of a student article included in the newspaper.

The grievance was filed after Flash reporter Lauren MacLean wrote a story about 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. The parents have since asked the school to investigate the audition process.

"As a journalist I'm supposed to tell the truth. They call journalists 'the watchdog' and it's not necessarily that I wanted to be the watchdog of this situation. I just wanted to inform the students and parents of [CCHS], and the community, what was going on," MacLean said.

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

"The students and the administration at [CCHS] feel that there is freedom of press and freedom of speech and that as long as someone's rights are not being violated...[they] should be able to say what they want to say, even if others 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 is being damaged by what's being said about the person."

According to Ross, the Churchill County Education Association has filed a grievance with the school district on behalf of Archey. The grievance also requests that the district "cease and desist from violating the terms of the Master Agreement" between the district and the union under Art. XI-8 Teacher Protection, and that the district take "any and all other remedies necessary to make the Grievant whole."

Art. XI-8 states: "No teacher shall be disciplined, suspended, reduced in rank or compensation, adversely evaluated in a manner which could affect the teacher's employment or lead to dismissal or non-renewal, transferred, dismissed, not-renewed, terminate or otherwise deprived of any professional advantage without just cause."

A representative from the Churchill County Education Association could not be reached by press time.

"Because of the scrutiny, there has been a grievance filed at my level, but I think it's going to be turned around and filed at the principal's level. There are great, even additional energies, time, and other resources being spent on this, and I'm just real regretful," Ross said.

The outcome she wants from all of this is to "move forward" and for there not to be "consequences when information is shared."

Ross said MacLean's article seems appropriate.

"Our principal believes it's appropriate, our legal adviser, our attorney has reviewed it and [it] seems appropriate. While it's not flattering, we don't see that it's damaging."

CCHS Principal Kevin Lords, who read the article during the school's prior review process, said he approved publication of the story because he felt there was nothing that needed to be censored.

"My feeling is that the reporter has used facts in her report and has not taken... a side, even though it's one-sided because the other side has refused to comment," Lords said.

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

Churchill County High School, Nevada, news, The Flash