Public School Principal May Have Violated Tennessee Law By Pressuring Teachers to Lobby Against School Vouchers

A Tennessee public school principal recently sent an email to teachers and staff at their school and urged them to lobby against the school vouchers’ bill currently up for consideration in the Tennessee General Assembly.

According to the language of the Tennessee Hatch Act, such activity violates state law.

The principal warned teachers that vouchers would devastate public schools and lead to more homeschooled children in Tennessee having Education Savings Accounts. This principal also instructed teachers and staff to email complaints to specific legislators, in addition to Republican Gov. Bill Lee.

The Tennessee Star has chosen not to identify the principal in question. This person also asked teachers to ask friends and family members to involve themselves in the matter.

The principal asked teachers and staff members to do these things immediately and to also thank a specific legislator who opposes the bill. The Star has chosen not to identify that legislator.

In closing the email, the principal assumed nearly everyone agreed that vouchers are bad.

But this is an area where the principal could end up in trouble.

Specifically, Tennessee’s Hatch Act says the following about this conduct:

• “It is unlawful for any public officer or employee to use such person’s official position, authority or influence to interfere with an election or nomination for office or directly or indirectly attempt to intimidate, coerce or command any other officer or employee to vote for or against any measure, party or person, or knowingly receive or pay assessments of any kind or character for political purposes or for election expenses from any other officer or employee.”

• “It is the intent of this section to prohibit any political intimidation or coercion of any public officer or employee.”

A knowledgeable source told The Star Monday the principal’s email could create a hostile workplace environment for any subordinates who favor vouchers. Any employees who felt intimidated could file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Tennessee Human Rights Coalition, the source said.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]






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One Thought to “Public School Principal May Have Violated Tennessee Law By Pressuring Teachers to Lobby Against School Vouchers”

  1. Kevin

    This highlight one of the BIGGEST reasons why teachers should want school choice. Currently, if a teacher “blows the whistle” on any one of the many possible transgressions going on within a school system, they will be ostracized, at best, and fired at worst. Once fired, where can a teacher go to find employment? All of the monopolized public school systems are connected, via, you guessed it, publicly paid for “public school” organizations, like Tennessee School Board Association, Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, or Tennessee Education Association. Josef Stalin didn’t have an as elaborate control network as these that which is over the teachers!

    We need school choice to free both the students AND the teachers!