ILNews

Suit: School district violating teachers' rights

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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A federal suit filed this week in Indianapolis accuses a school district of violating teachers' constitutional rights by blocking access to two political Web sites relating to the board's actions and removal of the superintendent.

This is the third suit lodged against the Perry Township School Board since November, when the board voted to place Superintendent H. Douglas Williams on paid administrative leave pending a review of his performance.

Filed by Perry Education Association President Terry Rice and Southport Elementary School teacher Sherrie Williamson, the suit alleges that school board president Susan Adams told the interim superintendent to have access blocked to www.takebackperryschools.com and www.wesupportwilliams.com from school computers. They want Judge David F. Hamilton to declare the district's singling out and blocking the two Web sites and restore access. No other sites were targeted, the suit says.

Both want to access these sites "to receive news, information, and opinions regarding the betterment of the school," the suit says, noting that both retain a First Amendment right to do so. "There is no content-neutral basis for distinguishing between the (two) and any other political news, information, and/or opinion website which is accessible from the school's computers and Internet service."

Additionally, the suit notes that the school district does not have a specific policy outlining what constitutes an "educationally valid website" or why a site would be disruptive to the educational process. As a result, the ban is considered "arbitrary, standard less, (and) constitutes content-based discrimination."

This recent suit comes a week after Williams reached a settlement in principle with the district, which be will be voted on at the July 9 board meeting. Williams had sued the board in May, and Chief Judge Larry McKinney ruled last month that Nancy Walsh, school board vice president, was too biased to vote on his firing. A settlement would end that suit and any potential appeal.

However, another suit filed by community organization Take Back Perry Schools asked a judge to reinstate Williams. That suit in Marion Circuit Court remains on hold and could hinge on the board's action on the settlement.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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