Petitioner Bessie Givhan was dismissed from her employment as a junior high English teacher at the end of the 1970-1971 school year.[1] At the time of petitioner's termination, respondent Western Line Consolidated School District was the subject of a desegregation order entered by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. Petitioner filed a complaint in intervention in the desegregation action, seeking reinstatement on the dual grounds that *412 nonrenewal of her contract violated the rule laid down by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Singleton v. Jackson Municipal Separate School District, 419 F. 2d 1211 (1969), rev'd and remanded sub nom. Carter v. West Feliciana Parish School Board, 396 U. S. 290 (1970), on remand, 425 F. 2d 1211 (1970), and infringed her right of free speech secured by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. In an effort to show that its decision was justified, respondent School District introduced evidence of, among other things,[2] a series of private encounters between petitioner and the school principal in which petitioner allegedly made "petty and unreasonable demands" in a manner variously described by the principal as "insulting," "hostile," "loud," and "arrogant." After a two-day bench trial, the District Court held that petitioner's termination had violated the First Amendment. Finding that petitioner had made "demands" on but two occasions and that those demands *413 "were neither `petty' nor `unreasonable,' insomuch as all the complaints in question involved employment policies and practices at [the] school which [petitioner] conceived to be racially discriminatory in purpose or effect," the District Court concluded that "the primary reason for the school district's failure to renew [petitioner's] contract was her criticism of the policies and practices of the school district, especially the school to which she was assigned to teach." App. to Pet. for Cert. 35a. Accordingly, the District Court held that the dismissal violated petitioner's First Amendment rights, as enunciated in Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U. S. 593 (1972), and Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U. S. 563 (1968), and ordered her reinstatement.