New York teachers sue over ban on campaign buttons

By October 10, 2008

The teachers' union for the nation's largest public school system accused the city on Friday of banning political campaign buttons and sued to reverse the policy, declaring that free speech rights were violated.

United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten announced at a news conference that a lawsuit had been filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to challenge the enforcement of the policy.

"We couldn't believe it," said Weingarten, who wore a Barack Obama lapel button. The American Federation of Teachers, including its UFT delegates, voted over the summer to endorse Obama's presidential candidacy.

Weingarten said schools Chancellor Joel Klein urged principals more than two weeks ago to enforce a Department of Education policy requiring complete political neutrality.

City lawyer Paul Marks said officials were still evaluating the lawsuit.

"However, we're confident that when the court has had the opportunity to fully consider this matter, the city's position will be upheld," he said.

Last week, some University of Illinois faculty and students held an Obama rally on campus, claiming their right to support political candidates was under assault. Before the rally, the school released a statement saying state workers were prohibited by law from participating in political activities on university property. The school later said it never intended to enforce the law...

Schools: University of Oklahoma