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Court Reinstates Teachers' Suit on Speech Limits

A federal appeals court has reinstated some free speech and retaliation claims by several teachers at a Colorado charter school. The teachers allege that their charter school principal illegally barred them from meeting to discuss school matters and that the school retaliated against them then they did.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver, held that the former principal of the Twin Peaks Charter Academy in Longmont, Colo., was not entitled to qualified immunity on some of the free-speech claims raised in a lawsuit by six teachers.

The principal's "legitimate interests in ensuring the efficient functioning of the school and deterring teachers from disclosing confidential student information did not justify a ban on the discussion of all school matters," the court said in its unanimous April 21 opinion in Brammer-Hoelter v. Twin Peaks Charter Academy.

Although the court dismissed several of the teachers' claims, it also held that a trial court should determine whether the charter school was liable for retaliation after refusing to reinstate the teachers, who had resigned amid clashes with the principal.

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