Curriculum A National Roundup

Teacher Wins Lawsuit on Use of Iraq Prison Photos in Class

By Ann Bradley — September 27, 2004 1 min read
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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.

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