School District Employees and Political Activities - How Do They Mix?

 

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that public school teachers, like other public employees, do not forfeit their constitutional protections when they take a government job. Among the constitutional protections provided are those established under the First Amendment, including the freedom of speech.

Acting in their individual capacities on their personal time, school employees may engage in political activities, including things like attending a political rally, participating on a campaign committee or phone bank, posting campaign signs, signing petitions, registering voters, and advocating for a particular political position.

However, school boards may prevent employees from exercising these rights in a way that suggests a school district’s endorsement of a cause, candidate, or issue. For example, a school district may adopt a policy that prohibits an employee from using the school district’s name or resources in connection with the employee’s personal or unofficial activities and may require employees to make it clear that their affiliation with the school district does not imply the school district’s approval or disapproval of an expressed view. 

Scott Swier
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