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Education 210 Portfolio Artifact #2

Education 210 Portfolio Artifact #2


Teachers Rights and Responsibilities
Jaime Hoonsan
The College of Southern Nevada

Education 210 Portfolio Artifact #2


Scenario:
Principal Eddie Watts and Assistant Principal Jimmy Brothers are administrators who are
assigned to a predominantly African American school. Ann Griffin is a tenured, Caucasian
teacher. While participating in an animated conversation with the two African American
administrators, Ms. Griffin stated that she hated all black folks. As rumor of Ms. Griffins
statement spread, it caused negative backlash among her colleagues, both Caucasian and African
American. Principal Watts endorsed removal of Ms. Griffin, charging concern for her ability to
maintain fair treatment, her capability as a teacher and her discernment of right and wrong.

Pro-Support:
According to Loeffelman v. Board of Education of the Crystal City School District
(February, 2004), Jendra Loeffelman, who was also a tenured teacher, made comments
containing negative racial undertones in front of a class of students. The school board felt that
her uncomplimentary comments violated district policies, did not address a matter of public
concern, and caused an upset in the schools setting and terminated her contract. Ms. Loeffelman
filed suit against the school board claiming that her speech should have been protected under the
first amendment. The court ruled against her stating that her language addressed a private matter.
Ms. Griffin exercised what she felt was her first amendment right to free speech, when she made
a comment that was received conveying racial undertones. According to the Loeffelman case,
Ann Griffins speech is not protected under the first amendment because it did not address a
matter of public concern.
Mt. Healthy City School Dist.v.Doyle, 429 U.S. 274 (1977) demonstrated that a school
district is not liable for removing or disciplining a teacher on the basis of the first amendment,
as long as there are other factors that would constitute removal. These factors may include
concern of fair treatment and capability as a teacher. This case involved Fred Doyle, a social
studies teacher who would have received tenure with the renewal of his contract. Mr. Doyle
came under fire after he shared the school boards new dress code with a local radio station who
poked fun at it. When it came time to renew Mr. Doyles contract, the board opted not to renew
the contract, effectively firing Doyle. The district cited Mr. Doyle using an obscene gesture at
students and sharing of the letter with the radio station as the reasons for nonrenewal. The courts
upheld the firing. Due to the fact that Ann Griffins speech raises concerns about her ability to
maintain fair treatment, her capability as a teacher and her discernment between right and wrong,
the local school board would be within its rights to fire her.

Con-Support:
According to Givhan v. Western Line Consol. School Dist., 439 U.S. 410 (1979), The
United States Supreme Court found in favor of Bessie Givhan, an English teacher, after the
principal recommended that the district not rehire her due to Givhans extensive complaining
about the newly integrated school district and the integration policies adopted by the district.

Education 210 Portfolio Artifact #2


Givhan had complained behind the closed doors of the principals office. The court ruled that due
to the fact that Givhan had never made public comments about the integration policies, that her
speech was protected under the first amendment. The court ordered that she be reinstated 12
years after her dismissal. Ann Griffins case is very similar to this one. Her comments were never
made in a public forum. If she were fired, it is likely that her dismissal would be overturned and
she would be reinstated if a court upheld this case.
Pickering v. Board of Education 391 U.S. 563 (1968) found that a teacher has the right to
allow their voice to be heard in matters of public concern, without the fear of being fired. A letter
to the editor written by Marvin L. Pickering was published in the newspaper 2 days before the
local election. The letter attacked the school boards handling of a bond, how finances had been
allocated and athletic expenses. The letter also accused the school board of trying to silence
teachers and keep them from speaking up against the bond. Pickering was fired for writing the
letter. He claimed that his speech was protected under the first amendment. The courts agreed
with him and his firing was overturned. Ms. Griffins case bears similarities to this case in the
fact that she should be able to communicate without fear.
Final Paragraph:
Ann Griffin made a careless mistake when she made the comment that she hated all
black folks. The fact that she made this comment in front of her administrators adds fuel to that
fire. It is possible that the principal was seeking retaliation when he made the recommendation
that she be dismissed. Observing how the courts have ruled in other similar cases, I feel that it
would be a costly battle that would wind up being overturned due to the fact that Ms. Griffins
comments were not made in a public setting, but to her principal which according to Givhan v.
Western Line Consolidated School District and Pickering v. Board of Education falls under the
realm of Griffins speech being protected under the first amendment.

Education 210 Portfolio Artifact #2


References
Underwood, Julie & Webb, Dean L.(2006) School Law for Teachers: Concepts and Applications
Retrieved from Pearson Education:
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/mo-court-of-appeals/1109760.html

Find Law (1977, January 11). Retrieved from Find Law for Legal Professionals:
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=429&invol=274

Underwood, Julie & Webb, Dean L.(2006) School Law for Teachers: Concepts and Applications
Retrieved from Pearson Education:
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=391&invol=563

Find Law (1979, January 9). Retrieved from Find Law for Legal Professionals:
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=439&invol=410