On February 15, 2008, GAE’s president, Jeff Hubbard, was acting in his capacity as spokesperson for the GAE at the Georgia State Capitol. When asked about the recent SACS Report critical of the School District and various members of its local Board of Education, Hubbard made public remarks about the Clayton County Board of Education’s accreditation crisis: “If the allegations in the SACS Report are true, then for the good of the children and the system, individuals on the Board should step down.” On March 3, 2008, the Board voted to discontinue any employee leave that was not specifically allowed by Board Policy; this included the “on loan” agreements like Hubbard’s. Four employees were affected by the decision, but Hubbard pointed out that the other three were permitted to return to employment with the School District. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Hubbard’s speech was made in his capacity as president of GAE, and not as an employee of the School District. Thus, his speech was protected under the First Amendment of the constitution.
This decision sets a national precedent that NEA state affiliate “on loan” presidents across the country may exercise their rights of free speech without fear of retaliation. GAE recovered $94,510.47 in attorney fees – no other organization compares to the legal resources of NEA/GAE.
Here is an article about the case in Education Week http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/school_law/2014/06/appeals_court_revives_educator.html
Read the decision here http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/files/201312130.pdf