Plaintiff Karlene Kincaid alleges that defendant River Bluffs Community College retaliated against her for exercising her First Amendment right to free speech by terminating her employment contract with the college. Plaintiff claims that the letter to the editor she wrote and the film she showed to her class are protected activity under the First Amendment. Plaintiff also contends that these protected activities were a substantial and motivating factor in defendant's decision to end the employment relationship.
[...] In order to establish that a public employee's speech is protected by the First Amendment, the Court must first decide whether the speech addresses a matter of public concern. “Whether an employee's speech addresses a matter of public concern must be determined by the content, form, and context of a given statement Connick 461 U.S. at 147-148. This is a question of law for the court to decide. Id. at 148. The form and context of the speech at issue must be “examined to determine whether the public employee speaks as a concerned citizen informing the public that the government is not properly discharging its duties, or merely as an employee speaking [a]bout internal practices relevant only to fellow employees.” de Lano F.3d at 1036 (quoting Calvit v. [...]
[...] Once plaintiff has established these two elements, the burden shifts to the defendant to show that it would have taken the same action regardless of the protected activity. See id. Summary judgment is proper if Plaintiff fails to establish that the activity she engaged in is constitutionally protected. Therefore, the only way for Plaintiff to survive this summary judgment motion is to show first that her activity addressed a matter of public concern, and second, that her interest outweighs River Bluffs Community College's interest in providing efficient public service. ARGUMENT I. [...]
[...] The Supreme Court has held that “educators do not offend the First Amendment by exercising editorial control over the style and content of student speech in school sponsored expressive activities so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.” Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier U.S (1988). Although Hazelwood dealt with student speech, a recent Tenth Circuit case applied the ruling to teacher speech. In Miles v. Denver Public Schools F.2d 773 (10th Cir. 1991), the Court followed the reasoning of the Hazelwood case to decide whether a teacher's speech in the classroom was constitutionally protected. [...]
[...] As the Supreme Court stated in Connick, this is a question of law U.S. at 148. Therefore, if Plaintiff cannot establish that the film shown to her class is a protected activity, as a matter of law, she fails to establish an essential element of her claim and Defendant is entitled to summary judgment. A. Plaintiff fails to establish that showing the film Boys Don't Cry in her classroom touches on a matter of public concern. In order to establish that a public employee's speech is protected by the First Amendment, the Court must first decide whether the speech addresses a matter of public concern. [...]
[...] Defendant River Bluffs Community College is thus entitled to summary judgment, as a matter of law, in its favor and against Plaintiff Karlene Kincaid. WHEREFORE, defendant River Bluffs Community College respectfully requests that this Court grant Defendant motion for summary judgment against Plaintiff's Complaint, and enter judgment for Defendant's costs, expenses, and any other award the court deems appropriate. REQUEST FOR ORAL ARGUMENT The defendant, River Bluffs Community College, respectfully requests oral argument before the court in support of this motion for summary judgment. Respectfully Submitted, Shen, McCormack & Kaja PC Zachary Shen, Esq. No West Blue Sky [...]
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