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PALM BEACH SCHOOLS: Teachers Told No Political Activity At Work

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BocaNewsNow.com Obtains Email Sent To Principals Just Ahead Of Donald Trump Moving To Palm Beach County

palm beach county school district

BY: ANDREW COLTON | EDITOR AND PUBLISHER
Copyright ©2021 MetroDesk Media LLC
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BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — The Palm Beach County School District is setting the groundwork to enforce rules and regulations against employees who engage in political activity while on duty.

An email obtained by BocaNewsNow.com reminds staffers that they may not take part in any political activity while at work. That does not include teachers teaching about politics, but “any activity directed toward the success of a political party, candidate for partisan for partisan political office, or partisan political group.”

BocaNewsNow.com obtained the email which was sent to all Palm Beach County School District principals by Deputy Superintendent Keith Oswald. The email was transmitted on Friday, just days ahead of Donald Trump returning to Palm Beach County to live as a former president. Principals are expected to share the rules and regulations with teachers and other employees.

Here is the email:

From: Keith Oswald
Date: Fri, Jan 15, 2021 at 12:59 PM
Subject: Legal Guidance – Rights, Responsiblities and Free Speech
To: All District Principals
Cc: All Regional Superintendents , All Instructional Superintendents , Claudia Grassi Skeie , Shawntoyia Bernard , Lisa Carmona , Jolande Morgan , Diana Fedderman

The School District of Palm Beach County is a diverse community committed to equity and fostering world-class educational environments that are safe and inclusive. This email serves as a reminder to all employees of District policy regarding the rights and responsibilities of employees of the Palm Beach County School District.

Every person has a right to their beliefs and as stated in School Board Policy 2.59, the “School District of Palm Beach County is committed to ensuring each citizen’s rights as provided in the Constitution and laws of the State of Florida and the Constitution of the United States.” In order to safeguard these rights, all employees are prohibited from:

Participating in any political activity while on duty;

Federal regulations define political activity as, “…activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.” (5 CFR § 733.101)

Attempting, either directly or indirectly, to coerce political activity or support from any other School Board employee; or

Attempting to solicit funds from a School Board employee on behalf of any candidate, party, or issue while on duty.

Furthermore, please note that Policy 2.59 contains prohibitions regarding the use or distribution of political materials during school hours or on school grounds, including:

Political Materials.– Any distribution of political materials, except as part of the instructional program or student government, or political activity during working hours (including e-mail messages) is prohibited, except as allowed under this Policy or Policy 2.591.

As Part of an Instructional Program.– Teachers may use political materials as part of the instructional program, provided the material is germane to the instructional objectives of the course. Any presentation of political materials, or issues, or expression of views, however, must be balanced and fair.

Teachers shall be responsible for providing students with the opportunity to investigate various sides of the topics presented in their courses, particularly in relation to controversial subjects, within such limits as may be imposed by relevance to the course, the maturity level and intellectual ability of the students, and the time available.

Teachers shall permit freedom of expression on those topics that are matters of opinion so that students may weigh alternative views and make up their own minds. Students shall be encouraged to examine, analyze, evaluate, and synthesize the information available to them before drawing conclusions in order to develop as fully as possible their capacities for rational judgment.

Teachers shall strive to promote tolerance for the opinions of others and respect for the right of all individuals to hold and express differing opinions.

A teacher may express his/her opinions in regard to political, social and religious values or issues provided that the total presentation is essentially balanced and fair. He/she shall not use professional interaction with students to further his/her own political aims or views or those of any other individual or group.

In response to inquiries we have received regarding the Presidential Inauguration, please be advised that the provisions in School Board policies must be followed:

Use of instructional time to view the Presidential Inauguration should be related to/germane to the instructional objectives of the course

Any presentation/discussion related to political events/activities must be balanced and fair

Students should be provided with an opportunity to investigate various sides of political topics presented, within the limits of relevance to the course, the maturity level and intellectual ability of the students, and the time available.

Teachers should promote respect for the right of all individuals to express differing opinions

The hard work and dedication of Palm Beach County School District employees is recognized and appreciated as we work together to provide safe and inclusive experiences and opportunities for students and employees. Should you have questions, please contact your principal supervisor.

[EMAIL ENDS]

BocaNewsNow.com is unaware of any disciplinary action taken against teachers or other staff members relating to political activity.

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