High school guidance counselor sues Illinois school district after being fired for writing graphic book
The Chicago Tribune reports that Bryan Craig, guidance counselor and former girls’ basketball coach at Rich Central High School, has filed suit in federal court against Rich Township High School District 227, charging he was terminated in violation of his free speech rights after writing a graphic book about relationships. The school board cited Craig’s book, titled “It’s Her Fault,” when it unanimously voted to fire him.
Board President Betty Owens said, “Mr. Craig’s conduct in this matter fell far short of our expectations and evoked outrage for me, members of this board and many others in this district who have come to expect the highest level of professionalism and sound judgment from the people they entrust with their children each day.”
Craig argues that his dismissal violated his First Amendment rights. He contends that publication of the book was not part of his official duties and should not have been used to fire him. He also notes the book was meant to give women a road map to having the upper hand in relationships with men.
In September 2012, Craig received a letter from the school district stating it “had received concerns from members of the school district community regarding the publication of the book.” The letter added that an investigation found that Craig had violated the district’s policies and procedures, according to the complaint.
Source: Chicago Tribune, 9/24/12, By Deanese Williams-Harris
[Editor's Note: The courts are seeing an increasing number of employee suits involving speech in claims of retaliation for online postings on social networking sites. For example, in June 2012, Legal Clips summarized an article in the Courthouse News Service, which reported that high school English teacher Natalie Munroe had filed suit in federal court against the Central Bucks School District (CBSD), Superintendent Robert Laws, and Central Bucks High School East Principal Abram Lucabaugh, claiming CBSD planned to terminate her in retaliation for her engaging in constitutionally protected speech. Specifically, Munroe alleged that she created a blog, intending for it to be anonymous, on which she criticized students, parents, and school officials without reference to specific individuals or locations where she worked or lived.]