Take Note

January 22, 2003 1 min read

No Dice

Though they’ve made visits there in the past, art-history and Russian-language students in one Utah district won’t be going anywhere near Sin City this school year.

Board members in the 23,000-student Nebo school district in Spanish Fork, Utah, denied a request from a Springville High School teacher to take her students to art exhibits in two Las Vegas casinos.

Beverly Burdett, who teaches U.S. history and Russian, said she went to the school board three times, each time adjusting the field-trip proposal to meet its needs, but the board still rejected the trip. The only reason members gave, Ms. Burdett said, was that Las Vegas was not an appropriate place to take schoolchildren.

District officials disagree, saying the teacher appeared before the board in September proposing two field trips: one to Las Vegas and the other to Oregon and Washington state. The latter trip was approved instead of the Las Vegas trip mainly because students would have fewer opportunities to visit the farther-away states, said spokeswoman Lana Hiskey.

“Not one school board member ever said Vegas was an evil city,” Ms. Hiskey said. And, she said, “two field trips is usually out of the question.”

Ms. Burdett never arranged the trip to Oregon and Washington state. Instead, she switched the destination to San Diego, in the hope that students could make a stopover in Las Vegas.

She said she didn’t believe it would be a problem to take about 50 students to see a Fabergé exhibit from the Kremlin’s collection at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino and an exhibit at the Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino titled “Art Through the Ages: Masterpieces of Painting From Titian to Picasso.” Four years ago, she took students to another art museum in a Las Vegas casino with board approval.

At both casinos, the museums are separate from the gaming areas and have different entrances. “I did not anticipate any trouble,” Ms. Burdett said. “It’s not like the artwork is hanging next to the slot machines.”

But she was told that visiting either casino would be considered insubordination. Students went on the San Diego field trip Jan. 10, making no stops at either casino. Ms. Burdett said the students and their parents “were all extremely disappointed. We could have learned so much more.”

—Hattie Brown