Freedom of Expression Provided teachers words do notcreate “material disruption” to thedistrict, school or employees, theyare afforded the same rights asevery other citizen.Connick v Meyers – School district employeescirculated a petition regarding the function of theoffice. This was not upheld as freedom ofexpression due to the nature of the petition, itscirculation at school, and the lack of regard ofproper channels of dealing with sub par behavior.
Speech Outside the SchoolEnvironment Pickering – Teachers are affordedthe same rights out of school as anyother citizen. Pickering’s letter tothe editor about the school districtwas deemed within his rights eventhough it misrepresented facts.
Academic Freedom Teachers in the public schools mustteach the curriculum in a way thatis appropriate for the students’ age,maturity and intellectual level.Inappropriate and controversialmaterial is generally not supportedby courts. Fowler – A tenured teacher wasdischarged for showing Pink Floyd’sThe Wall because the teacherdisregarded the district’s no rated Rrule.
Freedom of Association Teachers have the rights of everycitizen which allows them toassociate with other people of theirchoice without threat ofpunishment. Supreme Court states “a teacherserves as a role model for hisstudents, exerting a subtle but animportant influence over theirperceptions and values.”
Membership in SubversiveOrganizations Elfbrandt v Russel – “Those whojoin an organization but do notshare its unlawful purposes and whodo not participate in its unlawfulactivities surely pose no threat,either as a citizen or as a publicemployee”
Political Rights Teachers have the same rights andfreedoms enjoyed by all citizens. Teachers must limit their politicalactivities away from the classroomand outside of the school day.
Right to Hold Office Teachers can legally hold publicoffice. Some school board policydictates that teachers runningfor/holding office must take a leaveof absence to do so. In no circumstance, can theteacher’s contract be cancelled dueto running for/holding office.
Participation in PoliticalCampaigns Teachers have the right toparticipate in political campaignsprovided it does not interfere withthe school. District cannot prevent, threaten,harass or discriminate teachersbased on their participation inpolitical campaigns.
Dress and Grooming There is a long record of generaldisagreement in the courts aboutschool districts trying to regulateteacher appearance. East Hartford Education Associationv Board of Education of Town ofEast Hartford – Court upheld thedress code of wearing a tie.
Unwed Pregnant Teachers Courts tend to vary in rulings regardingunwed pregnant teachers 1960s and 1970s – courts were moreinclined to rule against single teacherswho were dismissed by school boardswhen they reported their pregnancy Mid 1970s and early 1980s – Courtsbecame less inclined to rule against unwedpregnant teachers without carefullyweighing all aspects of each case
Unwed Pregnant Teachers Cont. Courts considered teacher’s overallperformance record, the impact of theteacher’s actions on students, and, moreimportant, the extent to which theteacher’s actions adversely affect theireffectiveness as a teacher Courts may also consider communitystandards and the extent to which theteacher’s conduct violates the ethics of thecommunity Overall, large variance among courts inaddressing pregnancy among unwedteachers
Right to Privacy Right to privacy of teachers and administratorsshould be respected to the extent that they donot violate the integrity of the community orrender the teacher/administrator ineffective inperforming professional duties Burden of proof lies with school boards todemonstrate that lifestyle choice adverselyaffects the integrity of the district or that theconduct of the teacher/administrator has adetrimental effect on his/her relations withstudents or parents
Religious Discrimination in PublicSchools Title VII addresses any forms of religiousdiscrimination regarding employment. Religion is defined under Title VII toinclude “all aspects of religiousobservances, practices, and beliefs.” Employer, including school board, mustmake reasonable accommodations to theemployee’s religion, unless the employercan demonstrate the inability to do sobased on undue hardship.
Religious Discrimination in PublicSchools School officials must makeallowances for teachers’ religiousobservances if such observances donot create substantial disruption tothe educational process Examples: personal leave to attenda religious convention or to observea religious holiday
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Family and Medical Leave Act was passed by Congress in1993 Designed to allow eligible employees up to a total oftwelve work weeks of unpaid leave during any twelve-month period for one or more of the following reasons: Birth and care of the newborn child of the employee Placement with the employee of a son/daughter foradoption or foster care Caring for an immediate family member with a serioushealth condition Medical leave when the employee is unable to workbecause of a serious health condition
FMLA Cont. Employers with fifty or more employeesare covered by this act Eligible employee must be employed forat least twelve months or for at least1,250 hours over the previous twelvemonths An employer may raise questions of theemployee to confirm whether the leave isneeded or being taken for qualified FMLApurposes
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