Windy Pappas, a chemistry teacher at Woodland High School in California was suspended for her actions during a homecoming rally in the gymnasium. When the Star Spangled Banner began playing, Pappas took a knee, placed her hand on her heart and held up a sign that said “Black Lives Matter.” The rally went off without a hitch otherwise, but after the kids returned to class, a school administrator went to Pappas’ class and sent her home. She was allowed to return to class the following Tuesday.
Woodland Joint Unified School District spokeswoman Callie Lutz confirmed that the school emailed parents and set up a recorded message, so that parents were aware of what had happened in the gym. Teachers have a first Amendment right but not during school hours. Teachers are not allowed to be political or to endorse a particular view. Their job is to encourage thoughtful discussions on the subjects they teach, with both sides represented equally.
“While teachers do retain certain First Amendment rights in their capacity as an instructor, such rights are limited by Education Code and case law,” Sequeria said. “Their personal, political or religious beliefs are not appropriately expressed at school or in the classroom. Instead, the appropriate and legal instructional role is one of neutral facilitator – one who facilitates student discussion and intelligent analysis of current events.”
The First Amendment entitles teachers to protected speech if it is not in a school-sponsored platform, ACLU of Northern California senior staff attorney Michael Risher said. Past California cases have found teachers were within their rights to wear political buttons at back-to-school nights or circulate petitions in a teacher’s lounge, since they were not actively instructing students.
Staff are expected to attend rallies to supervise students and are assigned where to sit or stand, Lutz said. While most students attend rallies, the school also offers a separate location for those who choose not to. If Pappas attended the rally as a chaperone and didn’t offer an educational lecture, Risher said, imposing a suspension for her protest could prove difficult.
“Homecoming is not a part of the school curriculum. It’s essentially a social or spirit event, and that would certainly weigh in favor of her expressing her political views at that sort of event,” Risher said. “I don’t think anyone would confuse her personal expression here with expressing the views of the school, and that matters in this context.”
At the time Pappas took a knee she was assigned to watch a sector of kids. The ACLU claims that the teacher is not subject to discipline for her actions, even though she was in charge of students, they say she wasn’t “teaching.” I disagree. Every action by a teacher is an example to the students. No one can argue that the teacher can’t take a stand and protest whatever they like, but they must do it away from school.
And why do so many white SJWs hold signs that say Black Lives Matter? Is that the new equivalent of “Some of my best friends are black”?
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