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Court: Reporting student’s threat is protected speech

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in Firing,Human Resources

A teacher who was fired after filing a police complaint against a student who threatened him at school has won the right to a jury trial.

Recent case: Sean, a sixth-grade math teacher in a small town, ob­­served one of his students fighting with another student. The student’s father threatened to sue the school district if the son was punished.

During an assignment, the student threatened Sean in rap, proclaiming “I stabbed” the teacher. Sean went to the police, who filed charges. Mean­­while, Sean was forced to resign.

He then sued, alleging that by going to the police, he was exercising his right to free speech by bringing public safety problems in the school district to light. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Sean had a case and ordered a trial. (Gschwind v. Heiden, No. 12-1755, 7th Cir., 2012)

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