On Tuesday, September 11, Burlington High School interim Principal Noel Green censored the Register, BHS’s student newspaper. The editors were ordered to remove the breaking news of official charges filed by the Vermont Agency of Education against Mario Macias, BHS Director of Guidance.
On Thursday, September 13, Green lifted the ban on the article citing that the information it exposed was now more “widely circulated” due to local media coverage and notified the student press that a new BHS student media policy was in place called the “BHS Register Publication Guidelines”. These guidelines instituted a 48 prior review by school administration of all Register content before it could be published. The Register staff argued that this media policy was a violation of first amendment rights and not in the spirit of the Act 49, the New Voices law that promotes freedom of speech for student press.
Today, in a reversal of the BHS policy, The Burlington School Commissioners issued a press release ending Green’s policy. They invited stakeholders to engage in the process of creating a student-centered policy that honors the first amendment and the spirit of Act 49. The Register staff accepts this invitation and looks forward to doing this good work.
Saturday September 15, the BSD School Board and District Administration released a statement rescinding the prior review policy instituted by Green.
The statement reads:
“All previously practiced or adopted guidelines regarding publications in the BHS Register are no longer in effect. The Burlington School Board, together with its administration, will exercise its jurisdiction under Vermont’s New Voices law, codified at Vermont Statutes, Title 16, Section 1623(i), to 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.”
“The Burlington School Board, together with its administration, looks forward to a policy-making process that is student-centered, and which involves the BHS Register and local First Amendment experts and organizations, with the aim of producing a policy that may become a model for all Vermont school districts.”
– Clare Wool, Chair of the Burlington School Board
– Yaw Obeng, Superintendent of Burlington Schools
This story was edited at 5:52 PM 9/15 and was previously published under the headline: “Burlington School Board ends Burlington High School’s restrictive student media policy”.