Court Says No to Teachers’ Political Buttons

By Vaishali Honawar — October 20, 2008 1 min read
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A federal judge has ruled that New York City can prevent teachers from wearing political buttons in schools. The city’s powerful teachers’ union had filed a lawsuit Oct. 10 claiming that teachers’ free speech rights were being violated when the school system asked principals to enforce a district policy banning them from wearing such buttons. Read our previous blog post here.

There was a partial victory for the union, however. Judge Lewis Kaplan said teachers may post political content on their union bulletin boards in areas that are closed to students, and that materials about candidates may be put in staff mailboxes.

United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said she’s happy that the ruling protects teachers’ free speech rights in schools. As for the wearing of political buttons, she said the union had already proposed a compromise to the district in which the UFT would ask its members not to wear them in classrooms.

The matter may not be closed, however. This was a preliminary ruling, and the judge might hear more evidence at a later date. Weingarten also indicated after the ruling that the union might pursue the matter further after Election Day.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.