The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas has condemned a district’s new guidelines that prevent those making public comments at board meetings from speaking about specific district employees or students, calling it “unconstitutional.”
In a letter to Shawnee Mission school board President Sara Goodburn, the ACLU criticized Goodburn for reprimanding a parent who used a board member’s name while asking about a specific conflict-of-interest issue.
Doug Bonney, the organization’s legal director, said the First Amendment protects the public’s right to “call out or praise” all public servants.
“The guidelines would prohibit a parent from criticizing [the superintendent] by name for his public statements about the on-going legislative and public debate over school funding in Kansas,” he wrote. “Similarly, the guidelines would prohibit a parent from extolling the selfless dedication of a particular teacher or principal.”
A version of this article appeared in the June 21, 2017 edition of Education Week as New Kansas District Rule Bars Public From Criticizing Officials by Name