School & District Management News in Brief

High Court Refuses Case on Criticism of Superintendent

By Mark Walsh — May 20, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to hear the appeal of an Ohio superintendent in a lawsuit brought by a parent who says she faced retaliation for publicly criticizing the school district’s treatment of her daughter, who has diabetes.

The court’s refusal without comment to hear the appeal in Evans v. Jenkins (Case No. 07-1210) means that the parent’s suit will go forward on a First Amendment retaliation claim.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, had ruled unanimously in January for reinstating the First Amendment claim brought by Shara Jenkins against Lloyd Evans, the superintendent of the Rock Hill district in Ironton, Ohio, and the 1,780-student district itself. The appeals court said Ms. Jenkins may have a valid claim that the superintendent had retaliated against her for public criticisms she made that were protected by the First Amendment. The appeals court upheld the dismissal of certain other claims in the suit.

Dispute Over Insulin

The case arose out of a dispute over whether a school nurse would administer insulin shots to Ms. Jenkins’ daughter and an allegation from the mother that the superintendent had tried to bar the student from the school. Ms. Jenkins wrote a letter to a local newspaper criticizing her daughter’s school, and she filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights, according to court papers. After that, her suit contends, someone in the district filed a complaint about Ms. Jenkins with the local children’s-services agency.

In an appeal of the 6th Circuit decision, lawyers for the superintendent sought to convince the Supreme Court that there was a split among the federal circuit courts over whether a parent’s criticism of public school officials must be on a matter of public concern for it to be considered speech protected by the First Amendment.

Providing parents with constitutional protection for “purely private” complaints “greatly interferes with a public school’s ability to operate efficiently and effectively,” Mr. Evans’ appeal argued.

The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the appeal is not a decision on the merits of the case, but it does mean that Ms. Jenkins will be able to pursue the First Amendment claim at the trial-court level.

See Also

For more stories on this topic see Law and Courts.

A version of this article appeared in the May 21, 2008 edition of Education Week

Events

Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Science Webinar
Close the Gender Gap: Getting Girls Excited about STEM
Join female STEM leaders as they discuss the importance of early cheerleaders, real life role models, and female networks of support.
Content provided by Logitech
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Your School Leadership Needs More Student Voice
When one Virginia principal moved from middle school to high school, he knew he would need to find new ways of soliciting student feedback.
S. Kambar Khoshaba
3 min read
Illustration of students holding speech bubbles.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management First Latina Selected to Lead National Principals Group
Raquel Martinez is a middle school principal in Pasco, Wash.
3 min read
Raquel Martinez, the principal of Stevens Middle School, in Pasco, Wash., was named president-elect of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She’s the first Latina to hold the position.
Raquel Martinez, the principal of Stevens Middle School, in Pasco, Wash., was named president-elect of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She’s the first Latina to hold the position.
Courtesy of the National Association of Secondary School Principals
School & District Management Four Things to Know From a State's Push to Switch Schools to Heat Pumps
Installing a heat pump is complex, but the payoff is well worth it, says an expert in Maine who's pushing their adoption in schools.
4 min read
Close up of a heat pump against a brick wall
E+/Getty
School & District Management 3 Things That Keep Superintendents in Their Jobs
Two experienced leaders say strong relationships with the community and school board make all the difference.
5 min read
Magnet attracting employee candidates represented by wooden dolls
iStock/Getty