Educator's Free Speech Case vs. Tipp City Board of Education Case Thrown Out


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.

Read the Entire Suit and Share your Comments


  1. Hi –
    Thanks for this site – I check it every couple of days to keep up to date on what’s happening in Tipp and appreciate your efforts.

    A couple of inaccuracies in the article – Judge Rice did not hear the case – the judges were Cleland, Siler and Sutton with Sutton writing. Also, there is no finding that the teacher “stepped outside the law”, which implies that assigning these books would be illegal. It was a dispute about first amendment rights, where the teacher to prevail had to satisfy a two-part test. No illegality was involved. Did you read the opinion? It is clearly written and accessible to lay folks.

    FWIW the opinion notes that it appears Ms. Evans-Marshall was treated “shabbily”. Based solely on the record in the opinion and without regard to the merits, I am deeply disappointed in Mr. Wray, who I knew back when he was a teacher. I thought he was more professional than the court presents him to be.

    Thanks again for the site – I look forward to reading more!


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