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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ind. Decisions - Two Indiana civil cases decided by 7th Circuit today

In Mayer, Deborah v. Monroe County (SD Ind., Judge Barker), a 6-page opinion, Chief Judge Easterbrook writes:
Deborah Mayer worked for one year as a probationary elementary-school teacher in Monroe County, Indiana. When the school district did not renew her contract for a second year, Mayer filed this suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983, maintaining that the school system let her go because she took a political stance during a current-events session in her class, thus violating the first amendment. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants, so we must accept Mayer’s version of events—which is that she answered a pupil’s question about whether she participated in political demonstrations by saying that, when she passed a demonstration against this nation’s military operations in Iraq and saw a placard saying “Honk for Peace”, she honked her car’s horn to show support for the demonstrators. Some parents complained, and the school’s principal told all teachers not to take sides in any political controversy. Mayer believes that this incident led the school system to dismiss her; we must assume that this is so. * * *

How much room is left for constitutional protection of scholarly viewpoints in post-secondary education was left open in Garcetti and Piggee and need not be resolved today. Nor need we consider what rules apply to publications (scholarly or otherwise) by primary and secondary school teachers or the statements they make outside of class. See Vukadinovich v. North Newton School Corp., 278 F.3d 693 (7th Cir. 2002). It is enough to hold that the first amendment does not entitle primary and secondary teachers, when conducting the education of captive audiences, to cover topics, or advocate viewpoints, that depart from the curriculum adopted by the school system. AFFIRMED

Sims, Daniel v. EGA Products (ND Ind., Judge Simon) - affirmed

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 24, 2007 02:34 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions