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Artifact #2
Teachers Rights and Responsibilities
Angel Gutierrez
College of Southern Nevada
February 12, 2015

Freddie Watts and Jimmy Brothers both African American principle and assistant

principle are both administrators at a predominantly black high school. During a

conversation with one of the white tenured teachers named Ann Griffin, who works at the

high school there becomes a point where the conversation begins to heat up. At this point,

Ann Griffin states that she hated all black folks. After this incident word gets leaked

about her statement and creates a very tense and negative reaction between both white and

black colleagues at the high school. The principle Mr. Watts recommends that Ann Griffin

be dismissed due to the concerns that her ability due to the statement of her hating all black

people would result in her not treating students fairly and her competency as a teacher. The

question that we have here is whether the court will rule in favor or against Ann Griffin.

In favor of Ann Griffin, she may tell the courts that she has property rights to

continued employment. Due to the fact that Ann Griffin is under the contract of being a

tenured teacher she is guaranteed employment. As mentioned on page 37 of School Law

for teachers, Once a teacher is granted tenure, the teacher is said to have a property right

to continued employment, which cannot be taken away without due process. (2006). In

this case the Principle Freddie Watts did recommend that she be dismissed. Ann Griffin

can tell the courts that the comment she made was not enough reason to be recommended

for dismissal. Ann Griffin can state that this is her right to freedom of speech under the

protection of the First Amendment and property rights as a tenured teacher.

Belyeu V. Coosa County Bd. Of Education will be the first case I will

present to argue against tenured teacher, Ann Griffin. The argument will be that the

comment she made was in fact not under protection of the First Amendment, freedom of

speech. In the case of Belyeu V. Coosa County Bd. Of Education, a teachers aide

mentioned that the school did not rehire her due to her making a suggestion at a PTA

meeting about racial issues without prior approval from the principle. The suggestion she

made was that the school should adopt a program in order to commemorate Black History

month. In this case the teachers aid won the case due to the fact that she clearly touched

up on an issue of public concern. With Ann Griffin she did not touch up on the subject of

public concern when she spoke about hating black people. Instead her remark due to its

racial division isnt protected by the first amendments teachers rights to freedom of

speech. As mention by the Eleventh Circuit when discussing the case of Belyeu v. Coosa

County Bd. Of Education, Her remarks did not disrupt the school systems function by

enhancing racial division, nor based on the nature or context of her remarks, was her speech

likely to do so. In the case of Ann Griffin not only did the context of her remarks suggest

an enhancement of racial division but it also caused a disruption of the schools system

functioning professionally by being able to work together.

The following case Pickering v. Board of Education is a second case that argues

against Ann Griffin. In this case a high school teacher was terminated after writing a letter

to a newspaper complaining and criticizing the superintendent and the school board

because of the way they were handling the school funds. The Supreme Court in this case

ruled in favor of teacher in the fact that teachers as citizens have the right to make

comments about public concern; this is a freedom of speech. The only way that this can be

seeing as not protected by the freedom of speech is if it undermines relationships among

coworkers. Unless the public expression undermines the effectiveness of the working

relationship between the teachers and the teachers superior or coworkers. (Underwood

& Webb, 2006). With the case of Ann Griffin she would fall into the category of freedom

of speech that is not protected. Her statement about hating black people undermines the

working condition due to the fact that as mentioned before it caused negative reactions

among colleagues both black and white. There are specific speeches that do not have any

protection rights under the first amendment. As opposed to speech on matters of public

concern, speech that involves purely personal concern is not protected, examples include

personal attacks on administrators, board members, and/or other teachers.(Underwood &

Webb, 2006). Another reason her comment is not considered a protected freedom of

speech is due to the fact that her administrators are both African American and what she

said was of personal concern and can be understood as a personal attack on her

administrators during their heated conversation. Overall Ann Griffins comment was not for

the greater good of the public.

My decision is in favor of the Administrators due to the severity of her

comment. The fact that Ann Griffin is a tenured teacher at an all-black high school this can

cause negative work environment and it will place a damper on the effectiveness of the

school environment. Ann Griffin did not have a protected freedom of speech right under

the first amendment. Instead as mentioned in the cases of Belyeu v. Coosa County Bd. Of

Education and Pickering v. Board of Education, the comment she made while being on the

school grounds was not protected by the freedom of speech due to the comment not being

for the greater public good but rather could be taken as a tactic to offend her administrators.

Her argument that she is a tenured employee and has a property right can be revoked with

due process due to her comment made that was not in the guidelines of protected speech.


Belyeu v. Coosa County Bd. Of Education, 998F.2d925 (11th circ. 193).


Retrieved February 12, 2015.

Underwood, J. & Webb, L. (2006). Teachers rights. In School Law for Teachers. Upper Saddle

River: Pearson Education.