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Teachers’ Union Sues Newberg School District
Does flagrant political indoctrination belong in the classroom?

The teachers' union for the Newberg School District, the Newberg Education Association has filed a lawsuit against the school district claiming that the banning of Black Lives Matter and Pride flags has violated teachers' rights of self-expression as described in the Oregon and US Constitutions.

The suit names the school district and the School Board members who personally participated in the adoption of the resolution at issue in this case, David Brown, Brian Shannon, Renee Powell, and Trever DeHart.

According to the complaint, filed in Yamhill County Circuit Court:

On or about August 10, 2021, at the next District Board meeting, Board members and individual defendants Brown, Shannon, DeHart, and Powell voted to: “direct the Superintendent to remove all Black Lives Matter (a.k.a. BLM) signs, flags, placards, apparel, buttons, and all other modes of display, and all instances of the symbol known as the Pride flag from District facilities immediately, and direct the Policy Committee to draft policy language prohibiting the display of political signs, flags, apparel, buttons, and placards, and all other modes of display from District facilities, with the sole exception of the American flag and the Oregon state flag, with exemptions as it sees proper. The language contained in this directive shall only apply to District staff and faculty while in the performance of their official duties as District employees.” District Superintendent Joe Morelock indicated that he would need guidance from legal counsel before implementing the directive.

The teachers' union sets up the complaint by describing the political landscape.

In May of 2020, the killing of George Floyd by police, caught on video, sparked outrage throughout the country, prompting many, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, to take to the streets in protest and to issue public statements both acknowledging the harm caused by systemic racism and calling for the education necessary to combat racism in all its forms. Statements acknowledging the public importance of the issue were published not just by private corporate entities, but also by public agencies, including the Oregon Supreme Court.

The complaint asserts that teachers "displayed BLM posters and Pride flags, and/or other paraphernalia without disruption to the education environment and in support of and in solidarity with fellow teachers and students who are Black and/or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Questioning (“LGBTQIA+)."

In the complaint, the plaintiffs maintain that the policy violates their rights under Article I, Sections 8 and 20 of the Oregon Constitution and the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Article 1, Section 8 is the free speech guarantee of the Oregon Constitution. It says, "No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right."

Article 1, Section 20 is the equality guarantee of the Oregon Constitution. It says "No law shall be passed granting to any citizen or class of citizens privileges, or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens." For some, this allegation is interesting and ironic, as many of the objectionable issues involve violations of equality -- favoring minority and non-traditional gender identity students over others.

According to the complaint:

The District policy prohibiting plaintiff Association members from “hang[ing], post[ing], erect[ing], or otherwise display[ing] any posters, signs, flags, banners, pictures or other digital or physical image that depicts support or opposition relating to a political, quasi-political, or controversial topic,” is vague and overbroad in its scope, leaving Association members without guidance as to what speech is prohibited and potentially a violation of District policy leading to potential discipline by the District and/or their licensing through the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (“TSPC”) in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of due process of law.

If nothing else, this suit will shine a light on public schools and make a statement about whether they exist for the students or for the teachers and whether flagrant political indoctrination belongs in the classroom.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-11-05 10:09:53Last Update: 2021-11-05 10:54:52



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