School & District Management News in Brief

High Court Refuses Case on Criticism of Superintendent

By Mark Walsh — May 20, 2008 1 min read

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

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
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 Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
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 Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion New Resource Tracks School System Reopening
The Return to Learn Tracker identifies the current instructional model of all regular public school districts with three or more schools.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management San Francisco School Board Pauses Renaming 44 Schools, Promises to Consult Historians
The renaming of 44 schools in the San Francisco Unified School District is apparently being put on hold after intense blowback.
Greg Keraghosian
1 min read
A pedestrian walks below a sign for Dianne Feinstein Elementary School in San Francisco, on Dec. 17, 2020. The San Francisco Unified School District put the renaming of 44 schools, including Dianne Feinstein Elementary School, on hold after local and national blowback.
A pedestrian walks below a sign for Dianne Feinstein Elementary School in San Francisco, on Dec. 17, 2020. The San Francisco Unified School District put the renaming of 44 schools, including Dianne Feinstein Elementary School, on hold after local and national blowback.<br/><br/>
Jeff Chiu/AP
School & District Management Superintendent Who Led During COVID-19 School Shutdowns Gets Top Honors
Michelle Reid of Washington state's Northshore district, one of the very first to close schools last March, was named National Superintendent of the Year.
3 min read
Michelle Reid, superintendent of the Northshore district in Washington
Michelle Reid, the superintendent of the Northshore district in Washington, was named National Superintendent of the Year.
courtesy of AASA, the School Superintendents Association
School & District Management Is Lunchtime the 'Weak Link' in School Reopening Plans?
It's risky when students are inside and unmasked, experts say. Here are five ways to mitigate that risk and make in-school meals safer.
11 min read
Elementary students in Brownsville, Texas, eat a socially distanced lunch in the school cafeteria. Experts say there are ways to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19 even when kids take their masks off to eat.
Elementary students in Brownsville, Texas, eat a socially distanced lunch in the school cafeteria. Experts say there are ways to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19 when kids take their masks off to eat.
Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald via AP