Signature Assessment Critical legal concepts for teachers

Student's Rights: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, a pivotal case for student's rights under the constitution for free speech. Students wearing black arm bands in protest of the Vietnam War were suspended, the court overturned the school district's ruling and the Tinker Test is still used today. Freedom of speech is upheld if it does not cause disruption to school decorum, is not undermining of educational mission, or indecent.

Students have the right to gather, share beliefs, and express themselves on or off school grounds as long as it follows district policy and the guidelines of the Tinker Test. This can include religious groups. School administrators and staff will uphold their rights.

Constitutional rights for teachers:

•Substantive and procedural due process rights, including the teacher's right to receive notice of termination and right to hearing

•Freedom of expression and association provided by the First Amendment

•Academic freedom, a limited concept recognized by courts based on principles of the First Amendment

•Protection against unreasonable searches and seizures by school officials of a teacher's personal property

Just cause for tenured termination: • Immoral conduct or indecent behavior • Incompetency • Violations of ethical standards • Unprofessional conduct • Misrepresentation or fraud • Willful neglect of duty

Other means for dismissal: • Neglect of duty • Substantial noncompliance with school law • Conviction of a crime • Insubordination • Fraud or misrepresentation

What does this mean for teacher's and their personal rights?

Following the district's policies and avoiding situations that involve the following components will help one be protected from unjust termination. These scenarios can be on or off school grounds, in person, or on social media.

• Immoral conduct • Incompetence • Neglect of duty • Substantial noncompliance with school laws • Conviction of a crime • Insubordination • Fraud or misrepresentation

Example of inappropriate use of social media: Carly McKinney, a 23-year-old math teacher at Overland High School in Aurora, Co., had a job until the school district heard about some racy tweets. They included topless and other revealing self-portraits and messages like "stay sexy ... stay high ... stay drunk," as well as referring to a student as "jail bait" and saying that she was high while grading papers.

McKinney claimed that the Twitter account was a parody that she set up with friends. Students rallied to her defense. School administrators first put her on paid administrative leave and then fired her.

As adults, we often see photos on social media involving alcohol ranging from wild parties to classy weddings and other social events, a Mexican dinner or a trip to a Mexican beach. These photos could cost someone their teaching career.

Muskegon Mi.- A new school district policy warns that employees will “be held responsible” if images depicting “use of alcohol, drugs or anything students are prohibited from doing” are posted on such online. The article states if a teacher posts “someone” drinking alcohol, not just themselves.

As teachers, we should hold the same moral and ethical standards as we expect from our children. "The most powerful leadership tool you have, is your own example" -John Wooden

Teachers and social media- this does not mean we cannot use social media, it means what we do and say (even what we think is secure and private) can and will be seen. In my life, I refrain from posting photos or words involving cursing, alcohol, smoking, drug use, nudity etc.

These examples and means for termination give teachers guidelines to follow for a positive image as teachers, inspirations, and leaders of young lives.

Diversity and culture sensitivity is a controversial topic that raises many scenarios to learn from

An example of court overturning a judgement to fire: Two Mount Olive High School teachers, initially fired in 2013 after allegedly calling students "Negroes," have been allowed to return to work and keep their tenure, but will lose 10 months' pay from the 27 they were off work. The pair were fired by the commissioner, based on charges brought by the local board of education, following racial remarks allegedly overheard by two students in a locker room in 2012.

However, in 2015, a state appeals court overturned the firings, ruling that while the two women were guilty of "conduct unbecoming" a teacher, the penalty of firing, with removal of tenure, was "too harsh." The court returned the case to the education commissioner to determine an appropriate penalty. Knowing your rights and the due course of action as a teacher may save your job.

We must first know our beliefs and biases to know what we need to be most mindful of. Other keys to an inclusive classroom includes treating each student as an individual, be sensitive to terminology and language that may offend, be open to learning about cultural differences and letting students share what makes them unique, have varying lessons and guest speakers that reach all students, make the classroom a safe place students can be themselves.


Technology is a great tool to allow students a freedom on speech and expression, as well as address cultural and learning diversity within your students. Culture that others may not have a chance to experience can be at their fingertips with online research and videos, or a student who can share their culture in a powerpoint with artifacts. Open-ended projects help all learners reach their potential and feel successful.

To use technology effectively, one must know how to use it correctly. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, copyright is "a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works." Under the law, the individual or entity that owns the copyright of a work has the following rights:

- Reproduction: Making copies - Adaptation: Changing a work in some way - Distribution: Giving the work to others - Public Performance: Playing/performing a work in front of others - Public Display:Displaying a work for others to view - Digital Transmission of Sound Recordings: Capturing audio files on the internet and burning CDs/file sharing

Teachers have the responsibility to know the copyright and fair use procedures, and what is covered by their district

When teachers put their best foot forward, the students benefit! Our job is to inspire, lead, and ensure knowledge is gained through exploration and thought. We have expectations for our children and students to act with a certain level of moral compass, a moral compass we lead by example to create a caring culture. When we post controversial items on social media, or moonlight in an unprofessional business, the community we serve develops negative feelings towards us. We cannot be successful if our students do not have trust and respect for us.

credits:,,,, class discussion boards and keynote slides- Dr. McElroy


Created with images by w100pebble - "justice statue lady justice" • francisco_osorio - "CL Society 434: Chilean student protest" • pasa47 - "Old Court House" • mklapper - "Chinese Teacher" • macbofisbil - "Gold Margarita" • Concord90 - "girl young woman" • highlander411 - "Toast at the Cliffs of Moher" • Unsplash - "cheers beverage drink booze" • LoboStudioHamburg - "twitter facebook together" • dbking - "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." • maxlkt - "hand united hands united" • PublicDomainPictures - "black business computer" • kaboompics - "laptop office work" • DavidWees - "Copyright symbol - white background" • USDAgov - "20111013-OC-UNK-0003"

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.