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Public school violates First Amendment by firing vegan teacher over private Facebook post

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(NaturalNews) A second-grade teacher in Smithville, Ohio, was fired from his job in December because he wrote on his Facebook page that he was against dairy farming.

According to local affiliate Fox8, Keith Allison is a vegan and animal rights advocate who often openly posts his views regarding those issues to his Facebook page. In August, Allison took pictures of a local dairy farm showing what he described as crates that were being used to house baby calves after they were separated from their mothers at birth.

"As someone who grew up feeling parental love and support, and now as a parent who gives love and support, I reject the claim that separating babies from loving mothers to raise them isolated in boxes can ever be considered humane," he wrote in his post.

After somehow learning about Allison's post, the owners of the farm called the school's superintendent to say they were "upset" and "frightened" by Allison's post. As a result of his post and the farmers' complaint, the school pulled Allison's one-year contract after it came up for renewal.

School suggests seeking different career path

"I was informed by my superintendent that the family that owns this farm had called and complained about it and expressed that they were upset and frightened about the post," he said. "The fact that their family's farm was in the picture, I guess, is where their complaint was coming from and from what I was told, they were fearful, afraid that someone might come and break their calf crates or free their cows and their children were not safe to be out in their yards."

"During the meeting with my superintendent, I was informed we live in a large agricultural area, which is true, and that a lot of our money for the schools comes through residents of the community and that I needed to be very careful of what I put on [Facebook] because I might offend the community and the economic interests of the community," Allison told the local affiliate. "I was also told that I could have any personal beliefs I want to have, but if I want to be a strong Vegan advocate, I might want to look into doing something other than teaching."

Allison's firing led the American Civil Liberties Union to send a letter to the school board demanding that he be reinstated. The letter noted that his firing amounted to a violation of his protected freedom of speech "because he opposed dairy farming, on his personal Facebook page, on his own time."

"Mr. Allison's speech was as a private citizen on a topic of political and social concern to the public at large, and as such, is given the highest level of protection," said his attorney, Joseph Mead. "However much a community member or the superintendent might disagree with Mr. Allison's speech, they cannot force his removal because of it."

Making sure it doesn't happen again

Allison had been working with a small group of children who needed extra help to catch up with other students in math and language arts skills.

"I love the Smithville Schools. I've had great interactions with the kids, with parents, with the teachers I work with. They've got a great staff there, amazing teachers. The kids are wonderful, great parents," he said. "Yeah and I have enjoyed a lot of support from the teachers, a lot of encouraging words from them, from the parents, from my supervisors, and things were going really well."

He said he had passed the farm in question on his bicycle, then came back later in his car to take the picture.

"We are asking for an apology from the school and to clarify their position, so this doesn't ever happen, not only to me, but to other teachers in the future," Allison said.




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