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Teacher Sues School over Common Core Dispute

debbie vailesThe Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) filed a federal lawsuit yesterday on behalf of a teacher in a Louisiana Junior High School who was severely disciplined for criticizing the school’s Common Core curriculum on her personal Facebook page.

The TMLC, a national public interest law firm, is reporting on the case of Deborah Vailes, who has been teaching at Pineville Junior High School in the Rapides Parish School District of Louisiana for 12 years.

The trouble began on September 23, 2014, when she posted a photo of a little girl who was crying because of the shortcomings of Common Core on her personal Facebook page.

Later that same day, after discovering the post, the school principal, Dr. Dana Nolan, gave Deborah Vailes her first written reprimand and ordered her to refrain from expressing any opinion about public education on social media and to remove her anti-Common Core post from the social media site - ASAP. Dr. Nolan further informed Deborah that she could not to discuss her opinion in public - on any social media or any public forum.

Two days later, Dr. Nolan held a mandatory faculty meeting of the Pineville Junior high school. She informed the faculty at the meeting that Deborah Vailes was reprimanded due to posting a negative opinion about Common Core on Facebook. Dr. Nolan warned the faculty not to share their personal opinions or speak-out in any way.

After hearing about the Principal's gag order, Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, issued an executive order that teachers were to be afforded the same constitutional guarantees afforded to all citizens. However, his executive order did not deter the Defendant, Dr. Nolan, from continuing her vendetta against Deborah Vailes.

According to TMLC, Vailes had a stellar personnel record and never received a reprimand in her twelve years of service to the school district. However, since her public criticism, she has received three additional written reprimands. School administrators are now constantly visiting her class, when before her criticism of Common Core, such visits were rare.

common core logoIn addition, Dr. Nolan has stripped Debbie Vailes of her responsibilities, and placed her in a job category which, according to Vailes' colleagues, will be eliminated at the end of the school year resulting in her termination.

TMLC Senior Trial Counsel Erin Mersino and Alexandria, Louisiana attorney, Theodore D. Vicknair are representing Deborah Vailes.

"Accepting employment in the public sector does not mean a total loss of First Amendment freedom. Public employees may readily comment on matters of public concern, such as the Common Core Curriculum, and do so free from any retaliation from their employer," said TMLC Senior Trial Counsel Erin Mersino, who is representing Vailes along with Louisiana attorney Theodore D. Vicknair. "What the School District and Principal are doing to Debbie Vailes is blatantly wrong."

As a result, the TMLC, filed a lawsuit yesterday in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on behalf of Deborah Vailes against the Rapides Parish School District and the principal of Pineville Junior High School, Dr. Dana Nolan.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commenting on the reason for the lawsuit, stated: "Public school students have become 'guinea pigs' in a vast untested educational experiment dictated by the Federal Government. Our Constitution never envisioned federal control over education. But sadly, most states have voluntarily abdicated their responsibilities over education for federal dollars. Their decision will prove disastrous, not only for public education, but also for the freedom guaranteed by our Constitution. Debbie Vailes' uncompromising love for her students prompted her to speak out. And her voice should not be silenced by a tyrannical principal."

The controversial Common Core State Standards ("Common Core") are national standards in education promoted and funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Adopted in 43 states (including Louisiana), its implementation has caused an uproar from caring parents, grandparents and educators alike. Among the many complaints against the standards is that they were untested prior to implementation and have an overwhelming emphasis on standardized testing which requires teachers to "teach to the test" rather than teach for the sake of helping children to learn.

Also troubling are the English standards which include reading selections that feature incest, rape and drug use, as well as far left political viewpoints.

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