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Back to Mar. Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 242 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS MARCH 2006

Court Approves Pornography in the Classroom
Do parents have any rights to protect their children from classroom material deemed dangerous or offensive to their family morals and values? That is what Ohio parents are asking after the 2005 Sixth Circuit decision in Evans-Marshall v. Board of Education.

On Oct. 22, 2001, 25 parents attended a school board meeting in Ohio to "express concerns about the appropriateness and merit of some materials that had been assigned to the students as optional reading" by public high school teacher Shelley Evans-Marshall. The complaints intensified. At the subsequent school board meeting on Nov. 26, 2001, "approximately 100 parents were in attendance to protest the presence of material in classes and school libraries that the parents thought obscene." A petition calling for "decency in education" was presented with a remarkable 500 signatures.

School officials scrutinized teacher Evans-Marshall's instruction and began giving her negative ratings. In early 2003, the school superintendent recommended non-renewal of her contract, and the board unanimously agreed. Evans-Marshall sued the principal, the superintendent and board members.

The Sixth Circuit held that teachers have a First Amendment right in the classroom, and that right presumably extends to what many would consider to be obscenity. The court also held that the officials may be personally liable for infringing on the teacher's alleged First Amendment rights in the classroom.

The decision means that teachers have First Amendment rights in the classroom to distribute material against the wishes of the public, the parents, the principal, the superintendent and the school board.

The Court's opinion was written by Clinton-appointee Judge R. Guy Cole, Jr. For those living in the jurisdiction of the Sixth Circuit (Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee), pornography may be coming soon to a classroom near you.


 
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