The Advisory Bulletin, dated September 19 and addressed to principals in the district, claims that teachers cannot participate in tomorrow’s annual “See You At The Pole” (SYATP) events. For the past several years, students across America have gathered around their schools’ flagpoles before school begins on the fourth Wednesday in September to pray for their fellow students, their campuses and the nation. Locally, SYATP events tend to be loosely organized and open to the general public. PJI’s letter to BCSD reminds the District that teachers do not lose their rights to act as citizens and exercise their First Amendment freedoms, when they are off the clock.
The letter, penned by PJI staff attorney Matthew McReynolds, notes that PJI is willing to represent any teachers faced with adverse employment action for participating in See You At The Pole, while also being willing to represent BCSD and other school districts that choose to honor teachers’ First Amendment rights, against any challenges from extreme church-state separation groups. “Teachers are natural community leaders and civic participants,” noted McReynolds. “If anything, we should be encouraging and not censoring active, engaged citizens who simply want the best for their communities and schools.”
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