LAS VEGAS – Two Clark County teachers, Aramis Bacallao and Kristan Nigro, are facing misdemeanor charges for disturbing the peace after being removed from a School Board meeting in August. The teachers pleaded not guilty to the charges in separate court hearings on Wednesday.
Bacallao, an English language arts teacher at Becker Middle School, and Nigro, a kindergarten teacher at Schorr Elementary School and a Clark County Education Association executive board member, were among three teachers who were removed from the meeting after they refused to leave. The teachers were handcuffed and escorted out by police.
The incident occurred during a contentious collective bargaining session between the Clark County School District and the Clark County Education Association. Teachers union members had been protesting the district’s offer of a 1.2% pay raise, which they said was not enough to keep up with the rising cost of living.
During the meeting, teachers union members packed the meeting room yelling and chanting. At one point, Bacallao and Nigro stood up and began speaking over the noise. When they refused to leave, police officers were called to the scene.
The teachers’ lawyer, American Civil Liberties Union legal representative Chris Peterson, said that his clients are being prosecuted for exercising their First Amendment right to free speech. “We believe that the charges against Mr. Bacallao and Ms. Nigro are a clear violation of their constitutional rights,” Peterson said.
The district attorney’s office has offered Bacallao a pretrial diversion program to avoid jail and a conviction, but he has declined the offer. It is unclear whether prosecutors will also seek jail time for Nigro.
The trials for Bacallao and Nigro are set for early next year.
The Clark County School District is the fifth-largest school district in the United States, with over 170,000 students. The district has been under financial strain in recent years, and teachers have been vocal about their concerns about low pay and inadequate resources.
The Clark County Education Association is the union representing teachers in the Clark County School District. The union has been engaged in contentious contract negotiations with the district for over a year.
The trials for Bacallao and Nigro will be closely watched by teachers and other public sector employees across the country. The outcome of the trials could have a significant impact on the rights of workers to protest and engage in collective bargaining.
Credits: Review Journal
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