After a teacher's contract with the school district was terminated by the board of trustees, the teacher challenged the termination in federal district court, alleging a violation of his rights to free speech. The teacher alleged he had been terminated in retaliation for his public comments regarding alleged waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars by the school board. The school district requested that the case be dismissed.

The district court agreed that the case should be dismissed. In doing so, the court found that the teacher was required to prove “pretext”; in other words, the teacher needed to be able to prove that the school district did not fire him for the reasons it claimed, but rather in retaliation for his public comments. He was unable to prove this for three reasons:

  1. the district renewed his contract six months after his public comments regarding the school board’s alleged waste and fraud;
  2. the district’s stated reason for firing the teacher was credible — the district alleged that the teacher had been fired because of a number of vulgar comments he made to his students; and
  3. the teacher was unable to produce any evidence that the district had declined to terminate teachers who engaged in similar behavior.

Based on the above findings, the court stated that the district had presented legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for terminating the teacher.