Human Rights

Georgia Teacher Fired for Protesting Michael Brown Decision

She was exercising her free speech rights—the school fired her.

Photo Credit: via CBS46 News

Georgia's teachers have no collective bargaining rights. This means they do not have unions with teeth to defend them with, for example, tenure protections that guarantee their right to exercise free speech.

A case in East Point, Georgia shows just how important that is. Maryam Shakir, a 21-year old teacher at Paul West Middle School, planned to join a walkout on Monday, December 1st, protesting the lack of indictment in the police killing of Michael Brown. She made sure she had a substitute to cover her classes, not wanting to leave her students in the lurch. As a result, she was threatened with a cut in pay if she went through with the protest.

She decided to do so anyway. As a result, she was let go.

"In no way do I consider myself having walked out on my students," Shakir said. "I was walking out for them." 

The school claims it fired Shakir on a technicality, that she requested bereavement instead of a personal day for the walkout. "Ms. Shakir's employment was terminated because of her failure to follow appropriate procedures for requesting leave, not because of her participation in a national walkout," said a statement from Fulton County. "Fulton County Schools supports its employees in their freedom of expression, but also believes that they should make responsible choices for deciding how to do so."

With no real due process for Georgia teachers, Shakir will be denied the right to contest her firing.

Watch a local news report and read more on Shakir's case here.


Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

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