Friday, February 27, 2015

Teacher Forced Out For Facebook Posting On Religious Objections To School Billboard Can Sue

Knox v. Union Township Board of Education, (D NJ, Feb. 23, 2015), is a suit by a former tenured special education teacher at a public high school in New Jersey who was suspended after a posting comments on her personal Facebook page expressing her religious disapproval of a school billboard that promoted alternative homosexual lifestyles.  When the school board brought charges seeking to strip her of tenure, the teacher entered a settlement agreement under which she resigned and paid back the salary that she had received during her suspension.  However she reserved her right to sue for statutory and constitutional violations. In this opinion, the court permitted her to proceed with her state and federal constitutional claims of religious discrimination, infringement of free exercise and free speech rights, establishment clause violations and denial of due process. Her claims of racial discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress were dismissed.