4118.12 - Freedom of Speech

Policy 4118-12

Personnel - Certified/Non-Certified

Freedom of Speech
Public Communications by Employees

The Board of Education recognizes and respects the First Amendment Rights of all of its employees to make public statements and to otherwise participate in the public discourse through any and all media, including social media. The Board of Education also recognizes that inappropriate content authored by educators that is made available for public consumption can interfere with educational effectiveness. Therefore, Newtown Public School employees shall be expected to strike an appropriate balance between exercising their right to freedom of expression and maintaining their effectiveness and credibility as educators.

Ordinarily, the use of public discourse by employees, including employees’ use of personal online accounts, will not be a legal or policy issue. While a policy cannot address every instance of inappropriate public discourse, employees must refrain from discourse that:
  1. interferes, disrupts or undermines the effective operation of the school district;
  2. is used to engage in harassing, defamatory, obscene, abusive, discriminatory or threatening or similarly inappropriate communications;
  3. creates a hostile work environment;
  4. breaches confidentiality obligations of school district employees; or
  5. violates the law, board policies and/or other school rules and regulations.
The Board of Education, through its Superintendent, will adopt and maintain administrative regulations to implement this policy.

Legal Reference:         Connecticut General Statutes
                                    53a-193 through 53a-200
                                    Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 395 U.S. 589, 603 (1967)
                                    Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593 (1972)
                                    Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968)
                                    Connick v. Myers, 461 U.S. 138 (1983)
                                    Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 126 S.Ct. 1951 (2006)
                                    Sterzing v. Fort Bend Independent School District, 376F. Supp. 657 (S.D. Tex 1972)
                                    Grayned v. City of Rockford, 408 U.S. 104 (1972)
                                    Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973)
                                    Amendment to U.S. Constitution, Article I
                                    Connecticut Constitution, ARTICLE FIRST, Declaration of Rights, Sections 4, 5
                                    Academic Freedom Policy (adopted by Connecticut State Board of Education, 9/8/81)

Policy adopted: September 21, 2021                                        

Newtown, Connecticut
Inspiring Each Student to Excel

3 Primrose St., Newtown, CT 06470
Phone: 203-426-7600