Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Texas Education Agency Responds to Chris Comer's Lawsuit

The TEA has responded to Chris Comer's lawsuit alleging wrongful dismissal from the agency. The Story in the Texas Observer reports:

The fatal flaw in Comer’s argument, according to TEA’s Motion to Dismiss (.pdf), “arises from a fundamental misconception of the relationship between the Texas Education Agency, headed by defendant Scott, and the State Board of Education.” The 15-member elected board of education develops curriculum, including what Texas schoolchildren learn about evolution, the motion states. TEA only administers that curriculum and provides oversight. “TEA staff, in their capacity as state employees, must not take positions, even by implication, on contested curriculum issues the State Board will be called upon to resolve,” the motion states.

So all of the power for the curriculum resides with the State Board of Education and none with the TEA? How does the SBOE have the power to restrict the free speech of the TEA members? Is that in the contract? If so, it is probably a violation of the First Amendment. What a bureaucratic nightmare.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:25 PM

    You attribute this post to the Dallas Morning News. In fact, it was written and published by the Texas Observer.

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  2. If so, it is probably a violation of the First Amendment. What a bureaucratic nightmare.

    I believe there's plenty of precedent for dismissing a public employee on speech-related grounds. I'm pretty sure the big question would be whether he was fired for statements made on or off the job (i.e., in official capacity or just as a citizen).

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  3. You are correct. I was reading another story in the Dallas Morning News and switched them in my mind. I will correct it.

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  4. I think you can only fire someone if their speech is harassing or obscene or is a violation of company security. There is no constitutional protection for those sort of things. She is alleging that she got fired for an unconstitutional violation of free speech. She freely admits that she was using a work computer for passing on the message.

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