Not too long ago, Sherrif B. J. Roberts fired 6 of his employees for clicking that famous Facebook Like button of his election race opponent’s page. The 6 employees sued their employer thinking that their speech was protected, but low and behold, it wasn’t. At least at the time it wasn’t. Now, the Federal Appeals Court has ruled that clicking the “Like” button is a form of substantive speech, just the same sticking a candidate’s yard sign in your front yard is protected.
What’s all this got to do with schools you ask? Well, many of your schools have Board elections, but the real meat of this ruling is found in the protected speech of your employees and your students. The next time you want to take adverse action against one of your unionized employees for liking that anti-management page or the marijuana page, you will have to stop and call your attorney. And when your students start liking cigarette, marijuana, beer and other over 18 products’ pages, holding them accountable will be a little tougher.
Schools districts should consult their Board Policies, Administrative Regulations and union agreements to make sure that they are in line with protected speech rights. And before you decide to make any rash decisions about what you see on social media sites, call your legal counsel for an opinion.