Brownsburg Cafeteria Workers File Free-Speech Lawsuit Against School System

Oct 22, 2015

Credit Brownsburg Community Schools

A pair of Brownsburg cafeteria workers says the Community School Corporation violated their First Amendment rights when it punished them for expressing their opinions on social media, and have filed a lawsuit against the school system in federal court.

Tina Gracey and Brenda Farnsworth allege the school took unconstitutional disciplinary action against them for posting in a Facebook group that criticized two proposed ballot referenda.

The complaint says the school corporation gave Gracey and Farnsworth written warnings and told them they could be subject to termination if they continued to post their opinions to online forums.

However, the school system claims the women violated its staff social media policy, which the lawsuit wants to stop the school system from enforcing.

BCSC Superintendent Jim Snapp says the district is “keenly aware” of its employees’ freedom of speech.

He says the district has been consistent in enforcing the policy.

"When we've had other employees violate [the policy], those have been addressed in a very similar matter across the board."

In addition to halting enforcement of the social media policy, the lawsuit wants the disciplinary actions removed from the women’s records.