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Turning a Deaf Ear: Court Dismisses Case of Teacher Suspended for Demonstrating Tools in Class

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Scales of JusticeThe Rutherford Institute

An Illinois federal court has ruled that Chicago school officials did not violate the rights of a second-grade teacher who was charged with possessing weapons on school grounds after he displayed garden-variety tools such as wrenches, pliers and screwdrivers in his classroom as part of his second grade teaching curriculum that required a “tool discussion.” In granting a motion to dismiss the complaint in Douglas Bartlett v. City of Chicago School District #299, US District Court Judge Robert Dow, Jr., held that school officials at Washington Irving Elementary School acted properly when they applied a definition of “weapons” contained in a student handbook to the actions of teacher Douglas Bartlett.

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute filed the civil rights lawsuit in April 2013 on behalf of Bartlett, a 17-year veteran in the classroom, who was suspended without pay for four days on the grounds that his use of the tools as visual aids endangered his students, despite the fact that all potentially hazardous items were kept out of the students’ reach.

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© 2014 The Rutherford Institute

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