Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ohio teacher "fired" over Facebook post critical of dairy industry, as part of "vegan" advocacy

A teacher, Keith Allison, was fired (contract renewal refused) as a second grade teacher in the Green Local School Board in Smithville, OH, for a personal Facebook page in which he expressed opposition to dairy farming, as connected to his support of vegan diets (supported by Bill Clinton, by the way).  He also defends animal rights.  However, the post had a picture of a farm which the owner, while not named, recognized, and the owner complained. Fox News in Cleveland reports on the matter here .

This does fit into the discussion of speech and “conflict of interest” that I have taken up here, as recently on Dec. 16.  This issue pertains particularly to employees with authority to make decisions about other stakeholders.  In the context I have discussed here before, there would be no conflict if the post had been restricted to a friends’ or followers’ list. I’m not sure from the news reports if it was really “public”.
The YouTube report above maintains that the school system depends on financial support from local farming, and that Allison was told that if he wants to be a teacher, he can’t advocate vegan lifestyles when working in an agricultural area.  Rather silly (and illogical), but legally troubling, if you consider other parallel cases (like mine).
The ACLU says that the post was protected speech from a public employee, and has circulated an email petition.

Picture: Family farm from own family in Ohio, not related to case   

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