dr. william allan kritsonis - significant court cases ppt

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Dr. William Allan Kritsonis - Significant Court Cases PPT.

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  • 1. Chapter 6 PEDG 5344 William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

2. Pickering v. Board of EducationPickering, a teacher, was dismissed for writing and publishing in anewspaper a letter criticizing the Boards allocation of schoolfunds between educational and athletic programs and theBoards and superintendents methods of informing, orpreventing the informing of, the school districts taxpayers ofthe real reasons why additional tax revenues were beingsought for the schools. The Board, as well as the lower courts,found that the letter, which contained false statements, wasdetrimental to the interests of the school system and that theinterest of the school should take precedence over theteachers claim to freedom of expression. 3. Pickering v. Board of EducationThe US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the school bard was wrong in firing the teacher. Since the statements in the letter were not aimed at any person with whom the teacher would come in contact in carrying out his duties, and the falsehoods were not carelessly made nor did they impede school operations, the Supreme Court concluded that the teacher should not have been dismissed. 4. Pickering v. Board of Education Pickering is an important case because it recognizes thateducators, and by implication, all public employees do have aright to freedom of expression as citizens in the community. It also conveys to administrators the burden of documentationthey must shoulder to take adverse action against an employeewho they believe has abused the right. If it can be shown that the statements are made recklessly orwith knowledge of their falsity, that school functioning or theteachers performance is impaired, or that the superior-subordinate relationship is undermined, then sanctions, includingdismissal, might appropriately be brought against the employee. **Pickering recognized that educators have a substantial right tofreedom of expression as citizens of the community and conveysto administrators the burden of documentation in order to takeadverse action against the employee. 5. Nieto v. San Perlita ISDIn 1990, Frank Nieto, a school maintenancesupervisor, was discharged after he complainedthat the schools basketball coach was abusingstudents. Nieto had conducted his owninvestigation, which included puling students out ofclass for questioning. Teachers complained thathis actions were highly disruptive.The court held that Nietos speech was of publicconcern, but the public interest was outweighed bythe districts interest in promoting the publicservices it performs. 6. Tinker v. Des Moines School DistrictStudents wore armbands in opposition of the Vietnam war and weresuspended; their parents sued citing infringement of theirchildrens right to free speech.The US Supreme Court agreed with the students noting that schoolofficials do not possess absolute authority over their students.The court did not adopt an anything goes viewpoint; it wasemphasized that student expression in or out of class thatmaterially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorderor invasion of the rights of other is, of course not immunized bythe constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech. Since thewearing of the armbands generated no significant disturbancewithin the school, the court decided for the students. 7. Alaniz v. San IsidroThe 5th Circuit upheld a lower court ruling in favor of the school districts deputy tax assessor-collector, who was fired after an opposition political party won control of the board. Alaniz had actively supported the policies and candidates of the incumbent party, headed by her brother-in-law. She maintained she would not have been fired but for her 1st amendment-protected political activities.The trial court awarded Alaniz $51,000 in back pay and $40,000 in compensatory damages for mental anguish and emotional distress and ordered her reinstated to her position. 8. Whalen V. Rocksprings ISDA 7th grade science teacher who became involved in an extended question-and-answer session with her class that encompassed matters related to sex education. In the course of responding to questions about AIDS, contraceptives, and the development of sperm, the teacher engaged in what school officials considered unnecessarily graphic description harmful to the emotional well-being of students of that age and grade level in the largely rural community. For example, with regard to learning more about sperm, the teacher advised male students in her class to go home, lock the bathroom door, and masturbate. The teacher was dismissed mid-year following a due process hearing, a dismissal the commissioner of education upheld. 9. Whalen V. Rocksprings ISDThe commissioner stated that for a teacher to show that his or her comments were protected by academic freedom, the teacher has to show that the comments were reasonable relevant to the subject matter of the class, had a demonstrated educational purpose, and were not proscribed by a school regulation.**While teacher discussion rights in the classroomas contrasted with the right to control teaching methodologyare protected under the weight of judicial authority, they can be abused and lose their protection. 10. Expression Within the School There are three dimensions: (1) expression outside the classroom but on theschool grounds (2) classroom academic freedom (3) retaliation for speaking out about suspectedwrongdoing under the Texas Whistle BlowerStatute 11. Expression Within the School In 1979, the US Supreme court ruled that the 1stand 14th amendments can, under certaincircumstances, protect private communicationbetween a public-school teacher and a schoolprincipal. At the same time, the court stated that sincesubordinate-superior relations are particularlysensitive, the content of what is said, as well as thetime, place, and manner in which it is said, can betaken into account in deciding what is and is notconstitutionally protected. 12. Expression Within the School In 1983 (Perry Education Assn v. Perry LocalEducator Assn) the Court decided that schoolmailboxes are not automatically publicforums available to teachers, theassociations, and others to disseminateinformation. 13. Expression Within the School Administrators must be sensitive to employee1st amendment rights when making decisionsabout school mailboxes, Web sites, andsimilar types of communication systems. 14. Expression Within the School Connick v. Myers (1983) an assistant DA was fired for distributing questionnairesthat dealt with internal working conditions; the questioninvolved the issue of whether employee expressionconcerning on-the-job complaints is constitutionallyprotected and thus cannot be used in a negativeemployment decision. The Court ruled that such expression is notprotected and thus can serve as grounds fordismissal. In terms of school, an administrator mustdetermine whether the expression is protected bythe 1st amendmentif the expression does not dealwith community interests, then in general it is notprotected. 15. Expression Within the School An employees speech is protected when theemployee speaks as a citizen on matters ofpublic concern but not when he or shespeaks on matters only of personal interest. 16. Expression Within the School In 1995, the 5th circuit identified a 3-part testfor determining when particular speech by apublic employee is protected: (1) the speech must have involved a matter ofpublic concern (2) the public employees interest in commentingon matters of public concern must outweigh theemployers interest in promoting efficiency (3) the employees speech must have motivatedthe decision to discharge the employee 17. Texas Whistleblower Act In 1983, the legislature passed a law known as The Whistleblower Actprohibiting a governmental body from retaliating against an employeewho reports a violation of law to the appropriate law enforcementauthority if the report is made in good faith. Each governmental body is required to post a sign in a prominent placeinforming employees of their rights under this act. A violation of schoolpolicy is not within this definition (Lane v. Galveston ISD). An employee or appointed officer who is fired or otherwise penalized forreporting may sue for injunctive relief, money damages, court costs andattorneys fees (a cap on the amount is set). The Texas Attorney General has advised that a school district thatprevails in a whistle-blower lawsuit is under no obligation to pay thenon-prevailing employees legal fees. The employee has the burden of proving that the adverse personnel actionwas in retaliation for reporting a violation of the law, through the lawpresumes this to be the case if the termination occurs within ninety days ofmaking a report. The governmental entity is not liable if it can show that it would havemade the same negative employment decision in the absence of theemployees reporting. 18. Texas Whistleblower Act In Castleberry ISD v. Doe, the court made clear that the 90 daytimeline stops while the grievance is being processed. School districts can bear a heavy burden of responsibility ifthey uphold retaliatory action against an employee who reportsin good faith an alleged violation of the law. The Texas Supreme Court has defined good faith to mean anhonest belief that the conduct is a violation of the law, a beliefthat is reasonable in light of the employees training andexperience. **Example of test question: Mr. Smith brought into class anunapproved book. Mrs. Farmer disapproved of the book andturned in the teacher. What could be the outcome? Accordingto the Texas Whistleblower Act 19. Academic Freedom Involves four sometimes clashing interests: (1) interests of the state and local school board inseeing that the curriculum reflects the collectivewill of the community (2) the interest of the student in having access toknowledge and ideas (3) the interest of the teacher as a professional incontrolling class discussions & choosinginstructional