Image via WikipediaA teacher/blogger was not shielded by the First Amendment from a job demotion resulting from her rant against the school district, union and teachers with whom she worked, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled last week in an unpublished Memorandum.
The appellate ruling in Tara L. Richerson v. Jeanne Beckon (No. 08-35310) upheld the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, which granted summary judgment for Beckon, the director of human resources for the Central Kitsap School District, dismissing Richerson's complaint under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983. Richerson argued that she was wrongly transferred from her position as "curriculum specialist" in July 2007, to a classroom teaching assignment in retaliation for comments made in the personal blog she has maintained since 2004.
On balance, the court accorded more weight to the school district's administrative interests over Richerson's 1st Amendment interests. The court held Richerson's blog posts would erode her relations with co-workers and disrupted the confidential, trusting relationship teachers should exhibit toward one another. Rather than raise issues of public concern, the court found her comments "highly personal and vituperative."