Public-School Teachers and Social Media: Understanding Free Speech and Constitutional Limitations




Public Education, Teachers, Free Speech, Social Media, First Amendment, Public Employees


Constitutional protections are unalienable rights in the United States for most citizens. However, public employees are held to a higher standard due to set legal precedents regarding First Amendment protections and rights. Free speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of association are foundational rights of the United States for citizens working in the private sector, and public sector with untaught conditions. Limitations imposed on public-school teachers are historically difficult to decipher and navigate. Due to substantial technological advances in nearly every aspect of modern society, interpretations of current precedents may not be inherently viewed as applicable in regards to public-school teachers’ freedom of expression relating to individual social media usage.

 In this research paper, various landmark decisions, including Pickering v. BOE Township (1968) and Melzer v. BOE New York City (2003), are analyzed and applied to current societal concerns relating to public-school teachers’ social media usage and content. Recommendations for public-school teachers and administration encompass modeling pro-social behaviors, comprehensive social media policies, enhancing digital citizenship, and ethical decision-making practices.


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Author Biography

Megan McBride, Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Graduate Student at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Department of Educational Instruction and Leadership

References or Bibliography

Connick v. Myers, 461 U.S. 138 (1983).

Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006).

Hsiao, I. & Brusilovsky, P. (2017). Guiding and motivating students through open social student modeling: Lessons learned, Teachers College Record, 119(3), 1-42.

Melzer v. Board of Education of City School Dist. of City of New York, 336 F.3d 185 (2003).

Munroe v. Central Bucks School Dist., 805 F. 3d 454 (2015).

Pickering v. Board of Ed. of Tp. High School Dist. 205, Will County, IL, 391 U.S. 563 (1968).

Schroeder, M. (2013). Keeping the "free" in teacher speech rights: Protecting teachers and their use of social media to communicate with students beyond the schoolhouse gates. Richmond Journal of Law and Technology, 19(2), 1-128.



How to Cite

McBride, M., & Mayers, S. . (2023). Public-School Teachers and Social Media: Understanding Free Speech and Constitutional Limitations . Journal of Student Research, 11(4).



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