CHEYENNE, WY – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) applauds policy changes adopted by the Goshen County School District (GCSD) No. 1 Board of Trustees that protect board members’ right to speak freely.
Following the public censure of a board member and parent for publicly criticizing a controversial suspicionless student drug testing program, the ACLU requested changes in the school board’s governance policies. The policies prohibited school board members from publicly expressing “negative judgments about superintendent, board members or staff,” and required board members to support board decisions, even if they disagreed with the decisions. The policy changes encourage board members to be positive, but do not restrict them from publicly voicing dissent.
“School board members enjoy the same right to free speech as any other citizen,” says Jennifer Horvath, staff attorney for the ACLU of Wyoming. “They do not abandon their constitutional rights by virtue of being public servants.”
The policy changes fall short of prohibiting the censure of board members for exercising their First Amendment rights, but Horvath believes the school board has taken steps in the right direction.
“The new rules permit the open debate necessary for the public to evaluate its elected officials and supervise the government. This is a good start,” said Horvath.
The new policies are available online at http://www.goshen1.org/files/user/1/file/Board_of_Trustees_Leadership_Go....