Around New England

Federally Funded National Poetry Contest Drops Citizenship Requirement

Students who want to perform in a poetry recital contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts no longer have to be a U.S. citizen or even a permanent resident to compete. 

The federal agency dropped the requirement recently, in response to a lawsuit by the school district in Portland, Maine. School officials were irked earlier this year when a student from Zambia who goes to high school in Portland won the Poetry Out Loud competition in Maine but was told by federal officials he couldn’t compete in the national event.

A federal judge ruled that he could because the agency’s regulation didn’t cite a specific requirement enacted by Congress, but didn’t rule on whether the citizenship-or-permanent-residency rule is legal. The National Endowment for the Arts made the matter moot by informing the Portland school district recently that the rule is no longer in effect, according to the Portland Press Herald.

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