(WOODLAND PARK, Colo.) — The Colorado Education Association (CEA) and the Woodland Park Education Association (WPEA) have filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court of Colorado against the Woodland Park School District (WPSD) and the Woodland Park Board of Education (WPBE), on behalf of educators’ constitutional rights.
“Educators must be able to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech as public citizens, in order to advocate for their working conditions, which are our students’ learning conditions,” read a press release on Friday, Aug. 11.
The complaint alleges that beginning in February 2023, the WPSD and the WPBE “…adopted policies that chilled educators’ right to speak out as private citizens on matters of public concern and compelled educator membership in political organizations.”
In order to rectify some of the alleged wrongs, according to the CEA and the WPEA, the Complaint requests that the court:
- Remove the KDDA policy that punishes school-based employees if they speak publicly as private citizens about matters of public concern regarding the school district.
- Declare that Woodland Park School District employees have a constitutional right to make statements and social media posts about their employment as private citizens on matters of public concern.
- Declare that no employee who makes statements about their employment as private citizens on matters of public concern can be disciplined, terminated, or retaliated against.
- Declare Policy KDDA as null and void for violating the Colorado Open Meetings law.
- Declare that attempting to compel members to join PACE is unconstitutional, and an unlawful use of taxpayer money.
- Prohibit the School District from forcing school-based educators to be members of PACE.
“Woodland Park educators work hard every day to ensure that their schools are welcoming places where their students can learn and thrive,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, High School Counselor and President of the CEA. “And for their efforts, they’ve been rewarded by their school district and board with a gag order, with removal of critical services for their students, and with constant disrespect for their professional expertise.”
FOX21 News has reached out to the Woodland Park School District and Board of Education for comment but has not heard back as of Friday, Aug. 11.