SMITHVILLE, Ohio (WJW) – A teacher is fighting to get his job back after he was fired for a Facebook post.
Keith Allison was a second grade teacher who worked with kids who needed a little extra help to catch up to their peers in math and language arts.
"The kids are wonderful, great parents. Yeah, and I have enjoyed a lot of support from the teachers, a lot of encouraging words from them, from the parents, from my supervisors and things were going really well,” said Allison.
In August, he took a picture of a dairy farm using crates to house baby calves.
He posted the picture to his Facebook page.
“As someone who grew up feeling parental love and support, and now as a parent who gives love and support, I reject the claim that separating babies from loving mothers to raise them isolated in boxes can ever be considered humane,” he wrote on the post.
When it came time to renew his contract, Allison says he was told that the farm had complained about the picture.
“During the meeting with my superintendent, I was informed we live in a large agricultural area, which is true, and that a lot of our money for the schools comes through residents of the community. And that I needed to be very careful of what I put on [Facebook] because I might offend the community and the economic interests of the community... I was also told that I could have any personal beliefs I want to have, but if I want to be a strong vegan advocate, I might want to look into doing something other than teaching.”
The ACLU argues that Allison's Facebook post is free speech.
“Mr. Allison’s speech was as a private citizen on a topic of political and social concern to the public at large, and as such, is given the highest level of protection,” wrote Joseph Mead, an attorney.“However much a community member or the superintendent might disagree with Mr. Allison’s speech, they cannot force his removal because of it."
The ACLU has sent a letter to the school board, demanding he be reinstated.
The school district could not make any comments regarding the dispute, saying the letter from the ACLU "serves to confirm that litigation is imminent."
Allison says he is asking for his job back and back pay.
“We are asking for an apology from the school and to clarify their position, so this doesn’t ever happen, not only to me, but to other teachers in the future,” he said.