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Teacher Wins Lawsuit on Use of Iraq Prison Photos in Class

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A teacher in Bellingham, Mass., whose teaching schedule was changed after he asked his high school students to look at pictures of Iraqi prisoners being abused by U.S. soldiers has reached a settlement with the school district.

Brian Newark, a teacher at Bellingham High School, was told in June that as a result of parent complaints about the assignment—which was voluntary for his class of mostly seniors—he would not be scheduled to teach a class in current events this fall.

Mr. Newark sued the district in federal court with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts for what he said was a violation of his First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

As a result of the settlement, announced Sept. 2 by the district and the ACLU, Mr. Newark will teach the current-events class this school year.

The assignment last spring asked students to look at photographs of the Abu Ghraib prisoners and write about them, according to a news release from the ACLU. The teacher offered to give alternative assignments to any student who didn't wish to view the photos, but none asked for one, it said.

Vol. 24, Issue 02, Page 4

Published in Print: September 8, 2004, as Teacher Wins Lawsuit on Use of Iraq Prison Photos in Class

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