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Artifact # 2 Teachers Rights and Responsibilities 1

Artifact #2

Teachers Rights and Responsibilities

Callie Homan

College of Southern Nevada

September 19, 2015


Artifact # 2 Teachers Rights and Responsibilities 2

An African-American principal and assistant principal are administrators in charge of a

predominantly black high school. Ann Griffin, a white tenured teacher had an argument with the

two administrators. During the heated disagreement Ann Griffin stated that she hated all black

folks. Her biased statement was found out and caused negative reactions with both black and

white colleagues. The principal handles the situation by recommending a dismissal based on

concerns regarding her ability to treat students fairly as well as her judgement and competency as

a teacher. The dilemma is whether the teachers comment should be basis for her to be dismissed.

First we will discuss the administrators grounds for dismissal with Pickering v. Board of

Education (1968). In the case of Pickering v. Board of Education (1968) the teacher had written

to a newspaper and criticized the school district. With Pickering the question of his whether he

letter was protected under the First Amendment for freedom of speech. The Supreme Court ruled

that teachers have the right to make public comments on matters of public concern. However,

Ann Griffin was not making comments on public matters but her public outburst and therefore

her statement is not protected under the First Amendment. In addition, her outburst could

undermine the effectiveness of the working relationship between the teacher and the teachers

superior or coworkers. Unlike Pickering, Griffins outburst could severely impact her

relationships with colleagues and students.

The Second case rulings that would support the administration is the rulings Loeffelman

v. Board of Education of the Crystal City School District (2004). In the case of Loeffelman v.

Board of Education of the Crystal City School District (2004) Loeffelman made negative

comments about biracial couples and children in front of her eighth grade classroom. When

Loeffelman spoke to a students parent regarding the class discussion she again made comments

about her opinions on interracial couples. The court ruled that Loeffelman was in breach of her
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contract, and that her opinions would interfere with her ability to treat her students fairly. In

addition, Loeffelman tried to sue the board under the protection of the First Amendment of

freedom of speech. However, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the school board and deemed

that her biased opinions were not protected under the first amendment because she, as a public

teacher, was not speaking on public matters. The board concluded that the Loeffelmans

comments had caused a serious disruption to the school setting. Once Ann Griffins comments

reached a level of disruption amongst her colleagues and possibly students, the administrators

would have grounds for her dismissal based on the rulings Loeffelman v. Board of Education of

the Crystal City School District (2004) that Ann Griffins comments are not protected under the

First amendment instead they are disruptive to the school environment and can interfere with her

ability to treat her students fair.

The first case in favor of Ann Griffin is Carter County School District v. Palmer (1979).

Palmer was dismissed on grounds of willful or persistent violation of the written rules of the

school board. In the case Carter County School District v. Palmer (1979) the court upheld that

there was no evidence to prove that he had willfully breeched his contract. Ann Griffin had made

the comment to the principal and assistant principal during a lapse in judgement during a heated

conversation. Although that speech was not protected under the First Amendment for freedom of

speech, there is also no substantial evidence proving what the teacher had said. With no proof

that she had intentionally breeched her contract the principal has no ground for dismal. There is

no substantial evidence that the Ann Griffin will treat her students unfair due to an argument she

had with colleagues. Just like in the case of Carter County School District v. Palmer (1979) there

is no substantial and competent evidence to dismiss the tenured teacher.


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The second case in support of Ann Griffin is Cynthia Burgess v. Ferguson Reorganized

School District (1991). Cynthia Burgess was dismissed on the basis of willfully neglecting her

students and by doing so she breeched her contract. Ms. Burgess had left several students

unattended in the classroom, during that time one of the students was injured. The school board

charged that Ms. Burgesss decision to leave the students was her willingly breaking her contract

that stated she was not to leave any students unattended.

In the case of Cynthia Burgess v. Ferguson Reorganized School District (1991) Ms.

Burgess had time to rethink her choices before deciding to leave the students. Ms. Griffin did not

have the same time to think of what she was saying since she was speaking out of anger during

an argument. Even though the circumstances are different Ann Griffin was similar to Ms.

Burgess in the fact that she can claim that she did not purposely act in a way to cause harm.

Unlike the Cynthia Burgess v. Ferguson Reorganized School District (1991) Ann Griffin did not

intentionally break contract because she did not have time to rethink what she was doing. With

that in mind Ann Griffin never intended to cause personal injury to any persons when she made

her comment she was not purposely disrupting the school setting.

After regarding the supportive evidence, my decision would be in support of the teacher

Ann Griffin based on the cases of Cynthia Burgess v. Ferguson Reorganized School District

(1991) and Carter County School District v. Palmer (1979). Although the matter of public

concern is important for teachers to remember, Ann Griffin did not willfully disrupt the school

setting with her outburst. The outburst was during a heated conversation with two people who

were not in front of students or the other colleagues. Ann Griffin should not be fired without

sufficient evidence that the teacher would be breeching her contract by not treating her students

fairly or that she willfully made the statements that broke contract. The principal and assistant
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principal did not have sufficient evidence to prove what the teacher said and that she had caused

the disruption of school operations. There is no substantial evidence to prove that the teacher

would be unjust to any students because of her unintentional outburst. The teacher should not

have made the comment but without sufficient evidence that the teacher would be unfair to her

students, I would not rule to dismiss her from her teaching position.
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References

Burgess v. Ferguson Reorganized School District, R-2., 820 S.W. 2d 651(1991).

Retrieved September 16, 2015 http://www.leagle.com/decision/19911471820SW2d65

11390/BURGESS%20v.%20FERGUSON%20REORGANIZED%20SCHOOL%20D.

Carter County Sch. Dist., R-1 v. Palmer, 582 S.W.2d 347, 349-50 (Mo.App. S.D.1979).

Retrieved September 15, 2015 http://caselaw.findlaw.com/mo-court-of-

appeals/1109760.html#sthash.ekTsOv7o.dpuf

Loeffelman v. Board of Education, 134 S.W. 3d 637 (2004).Retrieved September 15,

2015. http://caselaw.findlaw.com/mo-court-of-appeals/1109760.html

Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968) Retrieved September 15, 2015.

From http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/391/563.html