No First Amendment Protection For Teacher

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (it covers cases that arise in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee) held earlier this week that the First Amendment did not prohibit the Tipp City Ohio School Board from terminating a teacher based on her book assignments for her 9th grade class. As part of an assignment, the teacher asked her students to choose books from an American Library Association list of the “100 Most Frequently Challenged Books.” Ultimately the students picked Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha.” And that’s when it all hit the fan. Long story short – angry parents, petitions, teacher fired. The teacher contested her dismissal, arguing that the First Amendment protected her book choices. But the 6th Circuit disagreed. When it comes to curriculum decisions a public school teacher is an employee first and a citizen second. So the school board, as the employer, can dictate curriculum choices. And of course, at a private school there is no First Amendment protection. As to the parents’ behavior, I will respectfully dissent. Let’s just hope they don’t ban dancing next. We’ve seen that movie.