Tuesday, July 06, 2010

5th Circuit Upholds Neutrality Policy For Texas Education Agency Staff

In Comer v. Scott, (5th Cir., July 2, 2010), the 5th Circuit upheld a policy of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) that required its staff to remain neutral and refrain from expressing any opinions on curricular matters subject to the jurisdiction of the Texas State Board of Education. TEA's Director of Science, Christina Comer, was fired for forwarding to 36 science teachers and to leaders of science teacher organizations an announcement about an anti-Creationism talk that was being presented in Austin. Comer challenged the neutrality policy as a violation of the Establishment Clause, arguing that the primary effect of the policy was to endorse or advance religion. The court concluded however:
we find it hard to imagine circumstances in which a TEA employee's inability to publicly speak out for or against a potential subject for the Texas curriculum would be construed or perceived as the State's endorsement of a particular religion.
(See prior related posting.)