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Old 03-22-2006, 10:31 PM  
Mr. Kotter Mr. Kotter is offline
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Legal Question: Media interviews by employees?

Lawyer types, or anyone else who thinks they can lend me any insight....

Can a school district legally impose a policy forbidding employees from being interviewed by the media?

That just doesn't seem to wash with me....yet our district's policy is precisely that: paraphrased, "employees may not be interviewed by the media unless they have received prior approval from the district offices...."

What do you think?

Now, I know there could be political repurcussions, and they can make life difficult for you if you don't comply....however, I'm asking about the LEGALITY of it...

FTR, I'm not talking about speaking on behalf of the district, I'm only talking about being interviewed about a topic of local concern, and being identified as a school district employee....specifically stating "I am not speaking for the district, but...."

Can a school district forbid you from participating in that sort of an interview?

I say, legally, no. Am I right, or wrong?

Thanks, in advance for your input.

Last edited by Mr. Kotter; 03-22-2006 at 10:37 PM..
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Old 03-22-2006, 10:40 PM   #2
Simplex3 Simplex3 is offline
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I think it should be illegal for anyone willing to interview you to have the piece put on the air. Problem solved.



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Old 03-22-2006, 10:50 PM   #3
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Yah I think it is illegal ...the teacher who compared Bush to Hitler out here wanted to do a interview w/ the media and the School District informed him that he couldn't or he would be fired....he threatened lawsuit (under first amendment rights) and the school district caved
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Old 03-22-2006, 11:03 PM   #4
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Yes. Yes they can. So can any other employer.
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Old 03-23-2006, 12:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiefsFanatic
Yes. Yes they can. So can any other employer.
that is not part of a governmental agency...the school district board is an elected body subject to the rules of the constitution
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Old 03-23-2006, 12:03 AM   #6
Rausch Rausch is offline
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You signed a contract.

Is that in the contract?

Did you read it?...
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Old 03-23-2006, 05:22 AM   #7
Mr. Kotter Mr. Kotter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DenverChief
Yah I think it is illegal ...the teacher who compared Bush to Hitler out here wanted to do a interview w/ the media and the School District informed him that he couldn't or he would be fired....he threatened lawsuit (under first amendment rights) and the school district caved
That's my thought; I guess, we'll soon see. Thanks.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Rausch
You signed a contract.

Is that in the contract?

Did you read it?...
It's not in the contract; it's in a policy adopted by the board--the same board which has had several policies over-turned in various litigation over the past 5-10 years.
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Last edited by Mr. Kotter; 03-23-2006 at 05:31 AM..
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Old 03-23-2006, 05:24 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiefsFanatic
Yes. Yes they can. So can any other employer.
First Amendment doesn't apply then????
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Old 03-23-2006, 05:49 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Kotter
First Amendment doesn't apply then????
Having worked for an employer whose policy was that no employee, unless employed in public relations, was allowed to conduct media interviews, I can attest to their right to do so.

You may make statements to the media on things outside of the scope of your employment. Of course they can't stop you from doing that.

They also can't stop you from conducting interviews regarding your work or employer, but they can fire you for not following company policy.

This would not apply to the Whistleblower Act, though.
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Old 03-23-2006, 06:05 AM   #10
Amnorix Amnorix is offline
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Private school -- likely they could issue such an order and have it stick.

Public school -- can't see it. The school system is an agency of the local government, and therefore subject to the First Amendment through the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Seems to me to be a violation of free speech, and therefore unenforcable.
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Old 03-23-2006, 06:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiefsFanatic
Having worked for an employer whose policy was that no employee, unless employed in public relations, was allowed to conduct media interviews, I can attest to their right to do so.

You are missing the point that the First Amendment prevents the government from impinging on free speech, unless there was some prevailing governmental interest (i.e. FBI, CIA, etc. can be told not to speak about pending cases, matters of national security, etc.)

Your employer was, presumably, not a governmental institution, and therefore was not subject to the First Amendment.
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Old 03-23-2006, 06:39 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amnorix
Your employer was, presumably, not a governmental institution, and therefore was not subject to the First Amendment.
What he said...
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Old 03-23-2006, 07:04 AM
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Old 03-23-2006, 07:07 AM   #13
Mr. Kotter Mr. Kotter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiefsFanatic
....

You may make statements to the media on things outside of the scope of your employment. Of course they can't stop you from doing that...
THAT is the point; I'd be making statements as a parent and PTA President, but identified also as a school district employee.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Amnorix
Private school -- likely they could issue such an order and have it stick.

Public school -- can't see it. The school system is an agency of the local government, and therefore subject to the First Amendment through the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Seems to me to be a violation of free speech, and therefore unenforcable.
Thanks, Amnorix. About what I thought.
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Old 03-23-2006, 08:31 AM   #14
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In my office us staff members can't talk to the press w/o the boss's permission.
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