A Louisiana middle school teacher is suing her school district in federal court, She claims administrators violated her right to free speech after she shared a photo on her Facebook page that was critical of the Common Core curriculum.
The Town Talk, a Louisiana paper, reports Debbie Vailes filed the suit against Rapides Parish School District on Feb. 25 with the help of the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative law group based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Vailes is a teacher at Pineville Junior High School.
On the morning of Sept. 23, 2014, Vailes posted a photo from her personal home computer to her Facebook page of a little girl crying over the Common Core standards.
The lawsuit alleges that, later that day, Vailes’ principal, Dana Nolan, gave the teacher a written reprimand for posting the photo.
The lawsuit claims that Vailes posted the photo out of concern for her granddaughter who attends “a nearby public school.”
“Defendant Dr. Dana Nolan told Plaintiff that 'you work for the public, you do not have an opinion. You are not to discuss your opinion in any way in public. Not on any social media, or any other public forum. If you are approached by the newspaper or tv, say, I cannot discuss this’ or words to that effect,” the lawsuit reads.
Since the reprimand, Vailes says her work environment has grown hostile, with school administrators regularly visiting her classroom. She alleges she was also transferred to work in a classroom with emotionally disturbed, or “E.D.,” students, shortly before that position was cut from next year’s schedule.
“Colleagues have informed Plaintiff that the E.D. teacher's position will be dissolved at the end of the school year, and likewise, Plaintiff will be terminated,” the lawsuit says.
The suit also claims that Vailes’ 14th Amendment right to equal protection was violated.
Common Core curriculum has been a lightning rod for national criticism with many conservatives being among the most vocal critics.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said in a news release that the standards are not only untested, they are also an overreach of the federal government.
“Public school students have become ‘guinea pigs’ in a vast untested educational experiment dictated by the Federal Government. Our Constitution never envisioned federal control over education,” Thompson wrote in the release. “But sadly, most states have voluntarily abdicated their responsibilities over education for federal dollars. Their decision will prove disastrous, not only for public education, but also for the freedom guaranteed by our Constitution.”
The lawsuit, which asks for a jury trial, requests a federal court to take jurisdiction over the matter and to issue injunctions to keep the district from “applying and enforcing their unconstitutional speech actions, policies, practices, and procedures …”
“Debbie Vailes’ uncompromising love for her students prompted her to speak out. And her voice should not be silenced by a tyrannical principal,” Thompson said in his news release.
Vailes is also seeking monetary damages and the payment of her legal fees.