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17 B.U. Pub. Int. L.J. 209 (2007-2008)
Silence in the Hallways: The Impact of Garcetti v. Ceballos on Public School Educators

handle is hein.journals/bupi17 and id is 213 raw text is: ARTICLES

A public school special education teacher complained on several occa-
sions to a district administrator that the district was not following federal
law in providing a free appropriate public education to its students with
disabilities. Her complaints remained unanswered. After she drafted a
memo outlining where the school district had failed to meet the require-
ments of the law, she learned that her contract for the upcoming school
year would not be renewed.
Before 2006, this teacher's speech would have been constitutionally protect-
ed unless it was proven to have a negative impact on workplace relationships or
operations. However, as a result of a recent Supreme Court decision, if the
teacher in this hypothetical situation was found to be speaking pursuant to her
official job duties, she would have difficulty relying on the First Amendment
for protection.
In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Garcetti v. Ceballos that when
public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employ-
ees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Consti-
tution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.' This
decision has already begun to affect public educators' expression rights. To
provide a context for understanding the impact of the Garcetti decision, this
article initially presents background information on the evolution of the law
governing public employee expression. The next section analyzes in some de-
* Martha McCarthy, Chancellor's Professor, specializes in education law and policy and
chairs the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department at Indiana University. She
has served as President of the Education Law Association and the University Council for
Educational Administration. Among honors, she received ELA's McGhehey Award for
outstanding contributions to the field of school law and the Campbell Lifetime Achievement
Award from UCEA. Suzanne Eckes is an assistant professor in the Educational Leadership
and Policy Studies Department at Indiana University. She is an editor of The Principal's
Legal Handbook. She recently received the Culbertson Award from the University Council
of Education Administration for outstanding contributions made to the field by a junior
faculty member.
I Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410, 421 (2006).

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