Another policy change for student-run newspaper at BHS

Published: Sep. 16, 2018 at 8:55 PM EDT
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A dispute between the principal of Burlington High School and student-journalists has prompted the Burlington School District to step in.

The student newspaper at Burlington High School, The BHS Register, broke a story Monday about school guidance director Mario Macias being charged with unprofessional conduct by the Vermont Agency of Education. Macias denies any wrongdoing.

Tuesday, staff from the paper say school administrators censored the article, forcing them to remove it from their website.

Vermont law protects student-journalists from school administration censorship, some exceptions include stories that create an imminent danger of disrupting the ability of the school to perform its educational mission. In a statement Thursday, the district says Principal Noel Green asked paper staff to remove the story finding that it meets that exception.

Mike Donohue from the Vermont Press Association says the school may have broken the law.

Friday, the school reversed it's decision and allowed the article to be reposted.

That same day, Burlington High School Principal Noel Green announced a policy requiring student journalists to submit articles for review 48 hours before publication. School board member Keith Pillsbury criticized the policy.

"Forty-eight hours seems like a long time for a news story," Pillsbury said.

As of Saturday, that policy is over. The Burlington School Board says: "Together with its administration, will adopt a written policy consistent with the provisions of the New Voices law."

The New Voices law is intended to ensure free speech and free press protections for public school students in order to encourage students to become educated, informed, and responsible members of society.

WCAX News reached out to members of the Burlington School Board and BHS Register for comment on Sunday and neither was able to speak about the developments.