Teacher sues Florida district after contract is not renewed

FLORIDA — The former faculty adviser for a student newspaper filedsuit against the Palm Beach County School District in October, alleginghe was removed from his teaching position because of controversial articlesin the student newspaper.

Toby Eichas said the school failed to renew his contract after he resignedfrom his adviser position.

The problems began during the 1998-99 school year when Boca Raton HighSchool’s student newspaper, The Predator, published several controversialcolumns containing Jewish stereotypes and sexual innuendoes.

After the controversial columns were published, principal Diana Harrisdemanded to review every issue of the newspaper before publication.

In protest, Eichas resigned his adviser position, as did the studenteditor. Harris later told Eichas that his teaching contract would not berenewed.

Eichas filed his lawsuit in October in the Palm Beach County CircuitCourt. The suit is now in federal court, said his lawyer Charles Wender.

The school district is asking the judge to dismiss the case, claimingthat Eichas’ speech was not protected under the constitution because itwas a private matter between the principal and him, Wender said.

The principal’s failure to renew Eichas’s contract “was retaliationfor his speaking up on behalf of the students,” Wender said. “There isno question about that.”