F R E E D O M O F E X P R E S S I O N E M P L O Y E E S P P T]

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William Allan Kritsonis, PhD …

William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
Educational Law Series - Freedom of Expression

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  • 1. Public School Law William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
  • 2.
    • Freedom of Speech is entrenched in our United
    • States Constitution with the addition of the ‘Bill
    • of Rights’.
    • Speech and the freedom thereof were and still
    • is such an important component that the
    • forefathers and thus “Framers” of the Constitution
    • placed it in the first amendment of the Bill of
    • Rights.
  • 3. What degree of “free speech” do employees have?
    • Do Teachers have the rights of free speech?
    • To what degree of autonomy do teachers have and what are the repercussions?
    • Should teachers not adhere to decorum?
  • 4. First Amendment
    • Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances .
  • 5. Fourteenth Amendment
    • All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
  • 6. Equal Protection and Due Process
    • States do have to be subordinate and subservient to Federal guidelines, especially in the arena of ‘Equal Protection’ and ‘Due Process’.
  • 7. Pickering v. Board of Education
    • US Supreme Court ruling overturning both local school board and lower court decision.
    • This specific case involved a teacher who was dismissed from his job for sending a letter critical of the school board to a local newspaper.
    • This specific case asserted the precedent that some aspects of speech are protected.
  • 8. Pickering v. Board of Education cont.
    • Although the case did protect certain aspects of speech it did not state that teachers have unrestricted rights of expression.
    • Justice Thurgood Marshall in writing the opinion for the court stated “has interests as an employer in regulating the speech of its employees that differ significantly from those it possesses in connection with regulation of the speech of the citizenry in general.”
  • 9. Nieto v. San Perlita I.S.D
    • The Nieto case involved a supervisor that was fired after making allegations that a coach was abusing students.
    • The court ruled that Nieto’s speech was of public concern but the public interest was outweighed by the districts interest in “promoting the public services it performs.”
    • Nieto’s dismissal was upheld.
  • 10. Connick v. Myers
    • This Supreme Court case handed down a ruling based on a case of expression in New Orleans.
    • An assistant district attorney was terminated after being informed that she would be transferred and then she circulated a questionnaire addressing office operations and policies.
  • 11. Connick v. Myers cont.
    • A federal district court and a court of appeals ruled in favor of Myers.
    • Reversing the decision the high court ruled that an employee’s speech is protected when an employee speaks as a citizen on matters of public concern but not when he/she only speaks of matter of personal interest.
  • 12. Protected Speech Three Part Test
    • 1.) The speech must have involved a matter of public concern.
    • 2.) The public employee’s interest in commenting on matters of public concern must outweigh the employer’s interest in promoting efficiency.
    • 3.) The third prong of the test is based on causation; the employee’s speech must have motivated the decision to discharge the employee.