Allen CELESTINE, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

LAFAYETTE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, Defendant-Appellee.
November 5, 1973.


Background:
A fifth grade teacher, Allen Celestine, was fired from his job at N. P. Moss Elementary School after he punished two girls for using profanity. The punishment was that each student had to write the word 1000 times. The assignment was submitted to the principal. The next day March 17, 1970, Celestine was called into a meeting with the principal, superintended, and other school board members. Celestine was told that he was suspended without pay and was told to resign. When Celestine refused to resign, he was fired.

In the United States Supreme Court Case, Rathe v. Jefferson Parish School Board, the court ruled that because the school board members were appointed or elected (in comparison to a judge being elected) had the authority to fire a teacher based on the teacher’s actions.

Rationale:
The court mentioned that firing Celestine on the basis of him making two students write for punishment was against his due process because the school system had never fired anyone for making students write something for punishment. However, the court ruled that the punishment was not educational and making a young child write a vulgar word multiple times was wrong. The actions the school had taken to fire Celestine were supported by the court. Therefore the court ruled in favor of the defendant.

Implication:
The implications of this case are that a teachers due process can be revoked if they are found incompetent. A teachers "bad judgement" can actually deprive them of a hearing, depending on their actions and what their school board considers incompetent. The teacher in this case not only had children writing vulgar language repeatedly, but he did this in the presence of other children. The school board was able to fire him immediately without the process of a hearing. This case also has a tone of cruel and unusual punishment theme running through it.

Applicable Quiz Question:

T/F

A teacher can be fired with out due process if he/she is found to be incompetent.

Answer: T

By: Lindsey Little
and Jennifer Carmack