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International Journal of Law and Education


Regardless of whether they wish to be regarded as such, there can be little doubt that most teachers and parents in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States agree that teachers are role models for students regardless of whether educators act in or out of schools. Yet, during this time of changing cultural contexts, the boundaries between the private and professional lives of teachers are blurred such that teachers may face liability for what they say or post in a more contemporary application of free speech, via the internet.

In light of ongoing changes, this paper examines how shifts ranging from societal attitudes on privacy and free speech to the use of social networking sites raise legal and professional challenges for administrators, their lawyers, and governing bodies in relation to the expressive, free speech of educators. In the process of reviewing the First Amendment rights of teachers, the paper briefly considers two cases that reflect how technology is changing the landscape insofar as a student teacher and a teacher experienced adverse employment actions in response to postings they made on social networking sites.

Due to the impact that societal changes have had on the private lives of teachers, the first part of this two-part paper examines relevant judicial developments on privacy and free speech rights of teachers in the United States. The second part makes brief recommendations to educators and lawyers regardless of whether they work in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, or elsewhere as they develop policies regulating teacher free speech and expressive activities.

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This document has been made available for download by permission of the publisher. Journal website.

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Australia & New Zealand Education Law Association, Ltd





Place of Publication

Bellerive, Australia

Peer Reviewed




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