Whether or not a public school district can require a teacher to submit to psychological examination is at the heart of a lawsuit recently filed in Michigan. The math teacher from Huron High School, who remains anonymous in the filing, states in her complaint that she was placed on leave from her job back in December 2013. At the time, district officials had already scheduled a psychological exam to happen in January 2014 before the teacher would be allowed back in the classroom.
The instructor balked at the requirement, despite the fact that the district is within its rights to request such an evaluation based on its current agreement with the teachers’ union. In her complaint, she alleges that the examination is essentially a violation of her 4th Amendment rights, and that it constitutes an illegal search.
Details regarding the circumstances that led up to the teacher being put on leave are scant. She was assigned to a new class at the beginning of the school year called Math Analysis. Another teacher was also assigned to teach a different division of the course, and both teachers used the same syllabus. However, just a few months into the school year, the school began receiving complaints from parents about the teacher who was subsequently put on leave and filed a lawsuit. Among the complaints was an allegation that the teacher had spoken out in the classroom against gay marriage.
Nonetheless, the math teacher maintains that she has not verbally or physically abused any students, parents or co-workers, and that she did not deserve to be put on leave and should not be required to submit to a psychological examination. The school district differs without mentioning many specifics. However, statements suggest that the teacher has in fact violated district policies and has somehow engaged in discriminatory acts.
While the district cancelled the psychological examination at the teacher’s request, they are still requiring completion of the evaluation before she returns to the classroom. In the meantime, the lawsuit is still pending, with the plaintiff seeking damages for lost wages and physical and emotional distress.
If you are a California school administrator with a question about student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, or school employment law, feel free to call attorney Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district legal issue.