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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ind. Decisions - More on: "'Honk for peace' case tests limits on free speech"

Updating this ILB entry from May 14th, which included a quote from the LA Times that began:

When one of Deborah Mayer's elementary school students asked her on the eve of the Iraq war whether she would ever take part in a peace march, the veteran teacher recalls answering, "I honk for peace."

Soon afterward, Mayer lost her job and her home in Indiana. She was out of work for nearly three years. And when she complained to federal courts that her free-speech rights had been violated, the courts replied, essentially, that as a public school teacher she didn't have any.

Today an AP story begins:
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A former teacher who said she was fired for talking to her elementary school class about peace activism is appealing her dismissal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Deb Mayer lost two earlier appeals in her 2004 suit against the Monroe County Community School Corp. after she was fired from her job at Bloomington’s Clear Creek Elementary School.

“There are 3 million teachers in the United States who need to know whether or not their instructional speech is ever protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution under any circumstances,” her lawyer, Michael L. Schultz, said Wednesday.

“Because there is a difference of opinion among the various circuit courts of appeals on that subject — in some circuits teachers do have some limited protection in class with respect to instructional speech and now in the 7th Circuit it’s pretty clear they have none — the Supreme Court has never decided the question,” he said.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis earlier ruled in favor of the school district, which said Mayer was fired because of complaints from parents and students regarding her teaching and disciplinary style.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 14, 2007 10:13 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions