Supreme Court refuses to review Ohio decision finding that public high school principals are not “public figures”

The U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, let stand a ruling by Ohio’s\nhighest court that said public high school principals are generally not\n”public figures” when it comes to libel lawsuits

The Dec. 13 ruling means that former East Canton High School principal John\nMcIntosh, who had sued his former school district for comments they made\nabout his job performance, need only show that the comments were the\nresult of negligence instead of having to meet the much tougher “actual\nmalice” standard of a public figure, which would have required that\nMcIntosh prove that school district officials either knew the comments were\nfalse when they made them or that they acted with reckless disregard of the\ntruth.

Most courts deciding the issue have reached the opposite conclusion,\nfinding that public school principals are public officials or public\nfigures, at least insofar as their official duties are concerned. The\nSupreme Court’s decision to refuse to take the case on appeal does not\ndefinitively resolve the issue outside of Ohio.

Case: Slick v. McIntosh, 99-532