SYLVANIA, OH—The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio reached a settlement agreement on Wednesday with Sylvania Schools on behalf of Derek Ide, a substitute teacher who was fired after making a political statement on Facebook in 2015. In its September 2016 letter to Sylvania, the ACLU of Ohio said comments like Ide’s are widely recognized as protected free speech.
In the Facebook post, Mr. Ide had shared a viral video of a high school security guard assaulting a Black female student, and had expressed his views regarding racism and violence in American institutions.
Ide said he was shocked and disappointed when he learned he was being fired from teaching in the very school district he attended as a child. “I am pleased we were able to settle this matter. This dispute was about my ability, and everyone’s ability, to speak out on today’s most pressing issues. Open discussion about racism is more important than ever before. We cannot censor away the problem.”
In the settlement, Sylvania Schools agreed to pay damages and attorney fees and issue a statement making clear that Mr. Ide’s dismissal was unrelated to his performance at work. The District also agreed to allow the ACLU to review its policies regarding the free speech rights of employees.
“Public school teachers have a right to speak about current events on their personal Facebook pages, from their own homes, on their own time,” said Christine Link, executive director of the ACLU of Ohio. “We remain as vigilant as ever against threats to free speech. Where there is social or political tension, we as a society need more speech, not less.”
Read the ACLU of Ohio’s September 2016 letter to Sylvania Schools.