Sep 082015
 September 8, 2015  Online, U.S., Workplace

Venkat Balasubramani provides an update on a case they’ve been covering since the git-go:

This case involved a teacher who maintained a pseudonymous blog that, along with her personal observations and musings, chronicled some of her frustrations with students. One post in particular talked about her challenges with providing tailored feedback for her students, and the nature of canned comments, and those she would like to see included in the list of canned comments.


The court also says some of her posts included details that would allow parents and students to determine the identities of the subjects in question. (emphasis added by


Even assuming her speech implicated a matter of public concern, which the court reluctantly does, the court says that the school district’s interest in efficiency and a disruption-free environment outweighed the teacher’s (and public’s) interest in speaking.

Read more about the court’s opinion on Technology & Marketing Law Blog.

While the district court and Third Circuit opinions rightfully address the “speech” issue, if it’s true that some of her posts – however low her subscriber numbers were – would permit identification of the students, then I’m actually more tolerant of the district getting rid of her. Although employees should certainly be allowed to vent about frustrations at work, as both Venkat and Eric Goldman point out, there are probably better – and safer – ways to do so. For students to feel that their teacher doesn’t respect them is not the kind of environment conducive to education.


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