CHICAGO (CN) - Members of the Chicago Teachers Union say the Board of Education unconstitutionally barred them from campaigning on school grounds outside of work hours. Nine candidates for union offices claim the board and its CEO Ron Huberman demanded that principals punish any union members who attend meetings or distribute pamphlets at school, though other groups are allowed to do so.
The candidates say Huberman issued a memo announcing the restrictions on March 12, 2 months before the May 21 "joint election," in which union members will select 43 officers and 150 delegates for the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers.
The nine plaintiffs - seven teachers, a retired teacher and a school clerk - say the school board allows other school groups, businesses, religious organizations, community groups and outside unions to hold meetings and pass out literature on school property, but has singled out the teachers' union.
They say that in the past years the board has permitted candidates to distribute campaign materials before or after school hours.
"Because the Board allows a wide variety of teacher, community, and other civic groups to use its facilities before and after school hours, it has intentionally rendered its school facilities a designated public or open forum," according to the federal complaint.
In the memo, which is posted on the Chicago Tribune Web site, Huberman declares that the restrictions are in place to "ensure that the school district remains neutral throughout the union election process and to focus the district's attention on [its] primary mission - to provide a quality education for all CPS students."
The candidates demand a temporary restraining order and injunction.Their lead counsel is Matthew Piers with Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym.
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