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Running head: ARTIFACT #2 1

Artifact #2; The Case of Ann Griffin

Courtney Lichtenwalner
College of Southern Nevada

Artifact #2; The Case of Ann Griffin

As an educator, it is absolutely necessary to not only be a good role model for students,

but to also be a positive co-worker. With that being said, certain personal beliefs have to be kept

personal at times, no matter the situation. In the case of Ann Griffin, she did not consider keeping

her convictions to herself and thus, this situation came to be. Griffin, a white, tenured teacher, is

being recommended for dismissal regarding a statement that she made during an intense

discussion with principal, Freddie Watts, and assistant principal, Jimmy Brothers. The statement

that Griffin made was that she, Hated all black folks. It is important to note that Griffin teaches

at a high school where the population is primarily African-American. It is also imperative to

include that Watts and Brothers are both African-American as well. Following this outburst,

Griffins colleagues, both black and white, were displeased with hearing that one of their own

felt this way. Therefore, Principal Watts is seeking the dismissal of Griffin from the school due to

concerns that Griffins prejudice thoughts would inhibit her from being fair to students, as well

as being unsure of her judgment or competence as a teacher.

In this case, the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment can be cited as sources,

as well as due process. The First Amendment entitles every American citizen the right to free

speech. According to McCabe, McCarthy, and Eckes (2014), while being an educator does not

take away this right, it can limit the expression of these rights while within a school setting.

Along with the First Amendment comes freedom of expression, which is stated as, Public

employees comments on matters of public concern are protected expression if they are made as

a citizen and not pursuant to official job duties. (McCabe, McCarthy, & Eckes. 2014. p. 233).

This amendment applies to this case because while citizens of the United States are entitled to

free speech, when speaking as an educator, the school board can take into consideration if the

words spoken could be detrimental to its reputation, as well as the teachers ability to be a

proficient educator. The second amendment that can be cited in this case is the Fourteenth

Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution mandates that no

state shall deny any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws. (McCabe,

McCarthy, & Eckes. 2014. p. 259). Within the Fourteenth Amendment, exists due process,

which, Guarantees that no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due

process of law. (McCabe, McCarthy, & Eckes. 2014. p. 285). Also, Courts have established

that a teachers interest in public employment may entail significant property and liberty

rights necessitating due process prior to employment termination. (McCabe, McCarthy, &

Eckes. 2014. p. 285). Both the Fourteenth Amendment and due process apply to this case

because as a tenured teacher, Griffin has property interest within her employment contract. This

basically states that state law guarantees her a position within her contracts terms. This does not

mean that she cannot be dismissed from her position; however, it entitles her to due process. The

liberty rights come from the Fourteenth Amendment and are given to all teachers, tenured or not.

This also means that Griffin is to be notified for the reasons that she is up for dismissal.
Griffin is arguing her case that she should not be dismissed under the First Amendment

and free speech. She stated that the conversation that she had with Watts and Brothers was in

private. The debate that she and the men were having continued, and words were exchanged in

the heat of the moment. In Griffins favor, the case of Garcetti v. Ceballos needs to be visited. In

the Garcetti case, the Supreme Court ruled that, whether the employee is speaking as a

private citizen or as an employee is the first consideration, because if speaking as an employee,

there is no further constitutional assessment. (McCabe, McCarthy, & Eckes. 2014. p. 235).

Griffin states that the debate was not concerning school or her job, and therefore was speaking as

a private citizen. This would mean that she would be protected under the First Amendment

regarding her freedom of expression.


The second case that Griffin is citing for her case is Givhan v. Western Line Consolidated

School District. Griffin again makes the argument that she, as did Givhan was speaking privately

with Watts and Brothers and not concerning school matters. Following the disagreement, the

conversation somehow leaked out of Principal Watts office, resulting in the faculty becoming

privy to what Griffin had said in anger. Watts then made the decision to place Griffin up for

dismissal, regardless of the fact that the conversation should not have been, on the record.

Regarding the Givhan case, the Supreme Court eventually ruled in her favor under the First

Amendment. (Justia. 2014) Again, this would mean that Griffin would be protected from

dismissal for what she said under the First Amendment.

Watts is offering up different information regarding the conversation that was had

between Griffin, Brothers, and himself. He states that the conversation did indeed take place

within his office; the debate quickly spiraled out of control. His personal secretary overheard the

conversation as Griffin yelled, I hate all black folks! before she stormed out the door. Watts is

also stating that with the majority of the schools population being African-American, he has a

difficult time accepting that Griffin could do her job without prejudice. This statement also made

Watts question the competency of her teaching skills and therefore made the decision to ask for

her dismissal. Watts cites the case of Pickering v. Board of Education. He references the

Pickering balancing test when considering what Griffin stated. Watts declares that her racist

comment could indeed affect her teaching effectiveness, jeopardizes her relationships with

superiors, as well as co-workers, and could interfere with the management of the school.

(McCabe, McCarthy, & Eckes. 2014. p. 236). Due to the fact that Griffin would not pass the

Pickering test, should be grounds for dismissal.

The second case that Watts presents regarding Griffins dismissal is Mt. Healthy City

School District v. Doyle. Watts does agree that free speech is of the utmost importance, when the

speech is completely unprofessional and the words can be damaging to ones employment, that

employee needs to be reprimanded for that indiscretion. In Mt. Healthy City School District v.

Doyle, the teacher originally won the case, however, the Supreme Court disagreed. The Court

stated, burden of proof is on the employee to show that the speech was constitutionally

protected and was a substantial or motivating factor in the school boards adverse reaction. Once

established, the burden then shifts to the school board to show by preponderance of evidence that

it would have reached the same decision in the absence of the teachers exercise of protected

speech. (McCabe, McCarthy, & Eckes. 2014. p. 235). Consequently, Griffins declaration made

her a questionable educator to black students. Watts is unsure as to whether or not Griffin made

any questionable errors when it came to grading students unfairly at this time.
In closing, in the Case of Ann Griffin, Griffin should be dismissed from her position as a

tenured teacher. Citing the case of Pickering v. Board of Education, based on her personal

feelings, Griffin cannot do her job thoroughly or fairly in a mostly African-American school.

While free speech and the First and Fourteenth Amendment do apply in this case, when an

educator can no longer be impartial or trustworthy among her students or her colleagues, their

integrity can be called into question. Therefore, Ann Griffin is to be let go from her position.