Lacks v. Ferguson Reorganized School District R-2, 147 F.3d 718 (8th Cir. 1998)
A high school English and journalism teacher failed to censor her students' creative writing assignments even though some of her students used profanity in their work. After a complaint, the school principal terminated the teacher for violating the school's "no-profanity" rule, which had traditionally not been applied to classroom exercises. The teacher sued, alleging a violation of her First Amendment rights. A jury sided with the teacher. The school district appealed.
Whether school officials could terminate a teacher for failing to censor her students’ written work without violating her First Amendment rights.
In a 3-0 decision, an Eighth Circuit panel held that school officials did not violate the First Amendment when they terminated the teacher for allowing her students to use profanity in their classroom work.
The court wrote that "a school district does not violate the First Amendment when it disciplines a teacher for allowing students to use profanity repetitiously and egregiously in their written work." The majority reasoned that the school board policy against profanity was "explicit and contained no exceptions." The school board has a "legitimate academic interest in prohibiting profanity by students in their creative writing."
"We hold, as a matter of law, that the school board had a legitimate academic interest in prohibiting profanity by students in their creative writing." (Judge Richard Arnold)
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 | 10:19:23