A Northern Nevada music teacher has filed a lawsuit claiming an article in a high school newspaper damaged her reputation.
Kathy Archey, who teaches at Churchill County High School in Fallon, filed a civil lawsuit in District Court March 5, claiming defamation of character and asking for more than $10,000 in damages.
The complaint stems from a student article published in January about parents’ allegations that Archey was withholding student audition tapes for a state musical competition.
District Superintendent Carolyn Ross, high school Principal Kevin Lords and journalism adviser Myke Nelson are named as defendants in the lawsuit. The lawsuit also names Steve Ranson, the editor of the Lahontan Valley News, which reported about the controversy .
Phone calls and e-mails to the Churchill County School District were not returned Thursday.
Archey also claims the article destroyed any chances of her family opening a restaurant in which they already had invested “substantial sums of money.”
The teachers union tried unsuccessfully in February to stop the article from being printed and filed two grievances, one with the principal and one with the superintendent, claiming the school district had violated its own policies and the teacher’s contract by allowing the piece to run.
The story ballooned into a national constitutional debate as the issue received coverage from The Associated Press and USA Today, among other news outlets, as a test of the high school reporter’s First Amendment rights, which are limited because she is a student.
Lauren Mac Lean , the 17-year-old senior who wrote the article, said she’s trying to see the controversy as a learning experience.
“It’s opened up my view of journalism,” she said. “I’m learning so much through the lawsuit and grievances. I’ve learned a lot about law.”