NORTH CAROLINA – The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Oct. 5 to hear the appeal of a North Carolina high school drama teacher who was involuntarily transferred from her job after community members complained about a play performed by her advanced acting class.
The Court’s ruling lets stand a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit which said that school officials had not acted improperly in transferring Margaret Boring to a nearby junior high school.
Citing the Supreme Court’s 1988 Hazelwood decision, the appellate court said that Boring, an award-winning, veteran drama teacher, enjoyed no First Amendment protection when it came to selecting, producing and directing a school play with controversial content.
The majority found that each and every curricular decision is “by definition a legitimate pedagogical concern” over which school officials have ultimate control. The decision will be binding on courts in the Carolinas, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
The play, “Independence,” centered on the relationships within a dysfunctional, single-parent family. Prior to performing the play in regional competition, where it won 17 of 21 awards, Boring had informed school officials of her selection.