In the lawsuit of Shelley Evans-Marshall vs. Tipp City Exempted Village School District; Charles Wray and John Zigler, the following question arose, does a public high school teacher have a First (and Fourteenth) Amendment right “to select books and methods of instruction for use in the classroom without interference from public officials”?

Yes, says the teacher Shelley Evans-Marshall. No, say the Tipp City Board of Education. Because the right to free speech protected by the First Amendment does not extend to in-class curricular speech of primary and secondary schools made “pursuant to” their official duties.

District Judge Walter Rice of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ruled in favor of the Tipp City Board of Education in a brief judgement that declared that while the Ray Bradbury book Fahrenheit 451 was an approved piece of literature for 9th graders enrolled at Tippecanoe High School, the former teacher Shelley Evans-Marshall did indeed step outside the law to encourage and assign the reading of other books identified as controversial including the book Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman.

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