Sunday, December 26, 2010

Teacher Loses Challenge To School's Demand She Apologize For Her Class On Evolution

In Hensley v. Johnston County Board of Education, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135926 (ED NC, Dec. 23, 2010), a North Carolina federal district court dismissed free speech, equal protection and religious discrimination claims by an 8th grade science teacher who refused to apologize to parents over her method of teaching evolution and dealing with religious objections to evolutionary theory.  After a parent complained that teacher Pamela Hensley was antagonistic to "true Christian" students, the school presented Hensley with a letter to sign to go out to parents apologizing for the manner in which she conducted the class discussion about God, religion and evolution. Ultimately she refused to sign the letter and was transfered to a different school. The court concluded:
her decision not to send the letter requested by her employer, in her capacity as a teacher, is not protected by the First Amendment. Because Hensley was asked to speak in her official capacity as a public employee, her refusal to speak does not give rise to a claim for violation of her First Amendment rights....