Teacher Who Altered California Loyalty Oath Reinstated

By Mark Walsh — March 10, 2008 1 min read
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A college math teacher who was dismissed after altering her state loyalty oath has been reinstated, two California newspapers report.

I blogged here about Marianne Kearney-Brown, a Quaker graduate student who was teaching remedial math at California State University-East Bay. Citing the Quaker religion’s commitment to non-violence, Kearney-Brown inserted the word “nonviolently” in front of the state Oath of Allegiance’s language calling on her to swear or affirm that she would “support and defend” the state and U.S. constitutions “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” The oath is required of K-12 public school employees in California, too, and Kearney-Brown had worked in two school districts where she had modified her oath without incident.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports here that “In a grievance hearing Thursday conducted in a telephone conference call, an attorney for the California State University chancellor’s office presented Kearney-Brown with a statement saying in part, ‘Signing the oath does not carry with it any obligation or requirement that public employees bear arms or otherwise engage in violence.’ ”

The Los Angeles Times reports that “with that document stapled to the oath, Kearney-Brown signed it” and was able to return to work.

“The idea that someone could be fired for refusing to sign a loyalty oath came as a surprise to many Californians who were unaware that public employees are still required to sign it,” the Times said. “The pledge was added to the state Constitution in 1952 at the height of anti-Communist hysteria and has remained a prerequisite for public employment ever since. All state, city, county, public school, community college and public university employees are required to sign the 86-word oath.”

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.