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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Burlington, South Burlington Voters Approve Big Bonds at Polls

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 12:18 AM

Rendering of the proposed renovation to Burlington High School - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Rendering of the proposed renovation to Burlington High School
Updated at 2:15 a.m. on November 7, 2018.

Big number, big question, big win.

The $70 million bond to rebuild Burlington High School passed resoundingly with 73.8 percent of the vote Tuesday. After all wards were tallied, the measure passed by a count of 13,383 to 4,734.

Although the price tag seemed scary to some residents, school and city officials got behind the proposal and, ultimately, so did voters.

"I voted yes," registered nurse Hannah Warren said while at the polls Tuesday. "I think investing in education is always beneficial for our community. The high school could definitely use some love."

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Storm Café to Close as Middlebury College Considers Future of Old Stone Mill

Posted By on Mon, Nov 5, 2018 at 5:33 PM

Old Stone Mill building in Middlebury - COURTESY OF STORM CAFÉ
  • Courtesy of Storm Café
  • Old Stone Mill building in Middlebury
The Storm Café in Middlebury will serve eggs Benedict and corned-beef hash one last time this weekend.

The restaurant inside the Old Stone Mill will close Sunday as building owner Middlebury College ponders new uses for the historic structure.

"It's bittersweet," said John Hughes, who has owned the restaurant with wife Beth Hughes for 13 years.

The final closing time Sunday might not be the usual 2 p.m., he added.

"I'm pretty sure we'll be serving until the last of the regulars stop coming in or I run out of food," Hughes said.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

'Howe' Now: UVM Drops 'Bailey' From Library Name Over Eugenics Ties

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 6:54 PM

  • Courtesy Of University Of Vermont
  • Guy Bailey
University of Vermont trustees voted Friday to remove former UVM president Guy Bailey's name from the Bailey/Howe Library because of his ties to the Vermont eugenics movement of the 1920s and 1930s.

The new name will be the David W. Howe Memorial Library. Howe was a UVM alumnus and a publisher of the Burlington Free Press who died in 1969. A dedication plaque in the library says that Howe's "lifelong interest in the progress of his newspaper, community, state and university helped stimulate others to greater achievements."

The decision is subject to another vote Saturday by trustees, and is expected to pass.

University President Tom Sullivan praised the move, which was recommended by a campus Renaming Advisory Committee.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Committee: Remove 'Bailey' From the UVM Library's Name

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2018 at 5:37 PM

  • Courtesy Of University Of Vermont
  • Guy Bailey
A University of Vermont committee has unanimously recommended that trustees remove former president Guy Bailey's name from the campus library because of his ties to the Vermont Eugenics Survey and its racist theories.

The Trustee Renaming Advisory Committee found that while Bailey "had numerous positive accomplishments that are part of his extensive legacy," his involvement in the eugenics survey was "fundamentally at odds" with the mission of the university, a report released to Seven Days on Thursday shows.

UVM's board of trustees will have the final say on the question. Trustees are expected to review the recommendation at an October 27 meeting.

The question about the name of Bailey/Howe Library surfaced last spring during student protests for racial justice that shut down traffic and disrupted classes. Changing the name was one of their many demands.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Parkland Students to Bring 'Glimmer of Hope' to Burlington

Posted By on Wed, Oct 17, 2018 at 8:56 PM

  • Courtesy photos
Alex Wind prefers not to discuss the details of the shooting that killed 17 people at his high school in Parkland, Fla., in February.

The 17-year-old senior survived the horrific day. On Friday, he will appear with two fellow students in Burlington to promote their book, "Glimmer of Hope," and the March for Our Lives campaign to stop gun violence.

"This is something that is going to be plaguing us our entire lives," Wind said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "But it comes to a point where we have to say, what’s now is now, and we need to be focused on that.”

Last winter, a young gunman sprayed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with bullets. Former student Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of murder.

The 6 p.m. stop on the Glimmer of Hope tour will take place at the First Unitarian Universalist Society in Burlington. Tickets sold out Sunday. Phoenix Books is sponsoring the event.

Wind will appear with two other students from the school: David Hogg and Emma González. They will participate in a moderated question-and-answer session and will sign books.

Some of the student activists have left the school to tour the country and advocate for gun safety measures. They are urging young people to register to vote and use the democratic process for change.

Friday's appearance will be Wind's first on the Glimmer tour. He still attends the school. "It's completely changed the entire atmosphere, the entire landscape," Wind said. "There's not a specific thing to point out. It's just the looming feeling."

Wind did not know Cruz, and didn't want to speculate on his motive — or even think about him. "No one is focused on him," Wind said. "We don’t want to be concerned about him and his face, because he is someone that caused harm and we don’t like to talk about him."

The campaign's goals include voter registration, a federal universal background check for gun purchases, a ban on semiautomatic assault rifles, and more funding to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

It's not a partisan effort, Wind said. "We can all come together and agree on one thing — that this country needs change."

The book's title is not an accident, he added. "The glimmer of hope is the young people, the people who are going to the polls next, the people who are going to the polls now. We don’t like the way things are happening and we're going to change them."

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Official Recommends Revoking Burlington Guidance Director's License

Posted By on Thu, Oct 4, 2018 at 11:48 AM

Burlington High School - FILE: OLIVER PARINI
  • File: Oliver Parini
  • Burlington High School
Vermont’s secretary of education leveled a new charge against suspended Burlington High School guidance director Mario Macias last week, accusing him of putting a student in emotional distress by trying to recruit the student to defend him against allegations of unprofessional conduct.

The guidance director was already facing six charges, filed on September 7, related to allegations that he faked a student transcript, behaved unprofessionally with a substitute teacher and showed general incompetence at his job.

In a September 26 charging document, Secretary of Education Dan French wrote that Macias “inappropriately engaged a student witness in a discussion of the licensing charges against him, in a manner that he should have known would cause the student severe emotional distress.”

French recommended that Macias’ educator license be permanently revoked.

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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Burlington School Officials Seek to Quell Censorship Controversy

Posted By on Sat, Sep 15, 2018 at 5:06 PM

The Register newspaper co-editor Julia Shannon-Grillo at Thursday's school board meeting - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The Register newspaper co-editor Julia Shannon-Grillo at Thursday's school board meeting
The Burlington School Board and Superintendent of Schools Yaw Obeng on Saturday attempted to quell the controversy over censorship of the city high school's newspaper, saying that a new policy will be developed.

The board and Obeng announced that guidelines for material to be published in the Burlington High School Register are no longer in effect. Instead, the board and administration will develop a policy that is consistent with the free speech and student journalist protections under Vermont's New Voices law, the announcement said.

It effectively scuttles a policy that BHS principal Noel Green conveyed Friday, after a dramatic week of shifting decisions over coverage.

On Tuesday, Green ordered Register editors and their teacher-adviser to remove a story from the paper's website that detailed Vermont Education Agency allegations of unprofessional conduct against BHS guidance director Mario Macias. He denies the allegations.
After students and other critics called that censorship and a violation of the New Voices law, the principal announced Thursday that the article could be reposted. But just as free speech advocates began to cheer, Green issued a directive Friday that all editorial content in the Register was to be reviewed by him or other administrators 48 hours before publication.

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Despite Controversy, Burlington Principal Plans to Vet Student Newspaper Stories

Posted By on Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 6:59 PM

The Register website - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • The Register website
Burlington High School principal Noel Green, whose censorship of a student newspaper led to a public outcry this week, has instituted a new policy that requires student journalists to submit articles for review 48 hours before publication.

The policy, issued two days after Green censored a story on the website of the Register, the school's newspaper, says that it is intended “to affirm support for the school newspaper, but also outline guidelines around how it functions.”

Seven Days obtained a copy of the new policy from the student journalists. It refers to Act 49, the Vermont law passed last year that was intended to prevent school administrators from censoring student journalists. But Green notes that there are six instances, such as libelous or slanderous information, that would be precluded from protection under the law, which is commonly referred to as New Voices.

“The only way school administrators can ensure that distributed material passes this litmus test, they must have the ability to view all material before it is printed,” Green wrote. “Thus, moving forward the BHS Register will re-continue the policy from 2016/17 which required material to be submitted to the administration 48 hours prior to publication.”

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Burlington School District Places Embattled Counselor on Leave

Posted By on Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 5:38 PM

Burlington High School - FILE: OLIVER PARINI
  • File: Oliver Parini
  • Burlington High School
Updated on September 15, 2018.

The Burlington School District announced Friday that it will place guidance director Mario Macias on administrative leave pending the completion of a state investigation.

Following a yearlong inquiry, the Agency of Education cited Macias on September 7 with six counts of alleged professional misconduct. The Register, the high school's student newspaper, broke the news of the allegations on Monday. Principal Noel Green ordered the newspaper to remove the story Tuesday, but not before other local media outlets verified and reported on the allegations. Green later agreed to allow the students to repost their story.

At a school board meeting Thursday night, residents berated Superintendent Yaw Obeng and the board for the handling of allegations levied against Macias. The board went into executive session for more than an hour to discuss a "personnel issue."

The district released a statement about Macias' leave at 5:13 p.m. Friday.

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Residents Rebuke Burlington School Officials Over Guidance Department Controversies

Posted By on Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 12:08 AM

Parent Caroline Crawford at the meeting - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Parent Caroline Crawford at the meeting
Parents and residents blasted the Burlington School Board and Superintendent Yaw Obeng Thursday night for their handling of unprofessional conduct allegations involving high school guidance director Mario Macias.

During a stinging public comment session, multiple speakers said district leadership ignored complaints about Macias for more than a year and should have placed him on leave Friday. That's when the Vermont Education Agency cited him for six alleged licensing violations, including fabricating a transcript so a student could graduate and behaving inappropriately with a substitute teacher who was a college student.

Numerous speakers also slammed BHS principal Noel Green for ordering the removal of an article from the website of the student newspaper, the Register, detailing the Macias allegations. The story was posted online Monday and removed Tuesday. After an outcry over censorship, Green and Obeng agreed to permit the article to be reposted.

The board went into executive session to discuss an unspecified personnel matter at 7:40 p.m. and concluded it more than an hour later. Asked if they had taken action to put Macias on leave, Obeng and board leaders would not comment. They said the administration and school board would issue statements Friday.

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