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Touchstone 3 Teachers Book Pdf 49

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Touchstone 3 Teachers Book Pdf 49

Under a collective bargaining agreement between the Board of Education of Perry Township, Ind., and Perry Education Association (PEA) as the exclusive bargaining representative for the School District's teachers, PEA was granted access to the interschool mail system and teacher mailboxes in the Perry Township schools. The bargaining agreement also provided that access rights to the mail facilities were not available to any rival union, such as Perry Local Educators' Association (PLEA). PLEA and two of its members filed suit in Federal District Court against PEA and individual members of the School Board, contending that PEA's preferential access to the internal mail system violated the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court entered summary judgment for the defendants, but the Court of Appeals reversed.

civic and church organizations, or because PLEA was allowed to use the school mail facilities on an equal footing with PEA prior to PEA's certification as the teachers' exclusive bargaining representative. Pp. 460 U. S. 45-49.

(b) The differential access provided PEA and PLEA is reasonable, because it is wholly consistent with the School District's legitimate interest in preserving the property for the use to which it was lawfully dedicated. Use of school mail facilities enables PEA to perform effectively its statutory obligations as exclusive representative of all Perry Township teachers. Conversely, PLEA does not have any official responsibility in connection with the School District, and need not be entitled to the same rights of access to school mailboxes. The reasonableness of the limitations on PLEA's access to the school mail system is also supported by the substantial alternative channels that remain open for union-teacher communication to take place. Moreover, under Indiana law, PLEA is assured of equal access to all modes of communication while a representation election is in progress. Pp. 460 U. S. 50-54.

The Metropolitan School District of Perry Township, Ind., operates a public school system of 13 separate schools. Each school building contains a set of mailboxes for the teachers. Interschool delivery by school employees permits messages to be delivered rapidly to teachers in the District. [Footnote 1] The primary function of this internal mail system is to transmit official messages among the teachers and between the teachers and the school administration. In addition, teachers use the system to send personal messages, and individual school building principals have allowed delivery of messages from various private organizations. [Footnote 2]

Prior to 1977, both the Perry Education Association (PEA) and the Perry Local Educators' Association (PLEA) represented teachers in the School District, and apparently had equal access to the interschool mail system. In 1977, PLEA

challenged PEA's status as de facto bargaining representative for the Perry Township teachers by filing an election petition with the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (Board). PEA won the election and was certified as the exclusive representative, as provided by Indiana law. Ind.Code 20-7.5-1-2(1) (1982).

The Board permits a school district to provide access to communication facilities to the union selected for the discharge of the exclusive representative duties of representing the bargaining unit and its individual members without having to provide equal access to rival unions. [Footnote 3] Following the election, PEA and the School District negotiated a labor contract in which the School Board gave PEA "access to teachers' mailboxes in which to insert material" and the right to use the interschool mail delivery system to the extent that the School District incurred no extra expense by such use. The labor agreement noted that these access rights were being accorded to PEA "acting as the representative of the teachers," and went on to stipulate that these access rights shall not be granted to any other "school employee organization" -- a term of art defined by Indiana law to mean

The exclusive-access policy applies only to use of the mailboxes and school mail system. PLEA is not prevented from using other school facilities to communicate with teachers. PLEA may post notices on school bulletin boards; may hold meetings on school property after school hours; and may, with approval of the building principals, make announcements on the public address system. Of course, PLEA also may communicate with teachers by word of mouth, telephone, or the United States mail. Moreover, under Indiana law, the preferential access of the bargaining agent may continue only while its status as exclusive representative is insulated from challenge. Ind.Code 20-7.5-1-10(c)(4) (1982). While a representation contest is in progress, unions must be afforded equal access to such communication facilities.

The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed. Perry Local Educators' Assn. v. Hohlt, 652 F.2d 1286 (1981). The court held that, once the School District "opens its internal mail system to PEA but denies it to PLEA, it violates both the Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment." Id. at 1290. It acknowledged that PEA had "legal duties to the teachers that PLEA does not have," but reasoned

"[w]ithout an independent reason why equal access for other labor groups and individual teachers is undesirable, the special duties of the incumbent do not justify opening the system to the incumbent alone."

The primary question presented is whether the First Amendment, applicable to the States by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment, is violated when a union that has been elected by public school teachers as their exclusive bargaining representative is granted access to certain means of communication, while such access is denied to a rival union. There is no question that constitutional interests are implicated by denying PLEA use of the interschool mail system.

"[N]owhere [have we] suggested that students, teachers, or anyone else has an absolute constitutional right to use all parts of a school building or its immediate environs for . . . unlimited expressive purposes."

"normal and intended function [of the school mail facilities] is to facilitate internal communication of school-related matters to the teachers." Perry Local Educators' Assn. v. Hohlt, IP 79-189-C (SD Ind., Feb. 25, 1980), P. 4. The internal mail system, at least by policy, is not held open to the general public. It is, instead, PLEA's position that the school mail facilities have become a "limited public forum" from which it may not be excluded because of the periodic use of the system by private non-school-connected groups, and PLEA's own unrestricted access to the system prior to PEA's certification as exclusive representative.

Neither of these arguments is persuasive. The use of the internal school mail by groups not affiliated with the schools is no doubt a relevant consideration. If, by policy or by practice, the Perry School District has opened its mail system for indiscriminate use by the general public, then PLEA could justifiably argue a public forum has been created. This, however, is not the case. As the case comes before us, there is no indication in the record that the school mailboxes and interschool delivery system are open for use by the general public. Permission to use the system to communicate with teachers must be secured from the individual building principal. There is no court finding or evidence in the record which demonstrates that this permission has been granted as a matter of course to all who seek to distribute material. We can only conclude that the schools do allow some outside organizations such as the YMCA, Cub Scouts, and other civic and church organizations to use the facilities. This type of selective access does not transform government property into a public forum. In Greer v. Spock, supra, at 424 U. S. 838, n. 10, the fact that other civilian speakers and entertainers had sometimes been invited to appear at Fort Dix did not convert the military base into a public forum. And in Lehman v. City of Shaker Heights, 418 U. S. 298 (1974) (opinion of BLACKMUN, J.), a plurality of the Court concluded that a city transit system's rental of space in its vehicles for commercial advertising did not require it to accept partisan political advertising. 350c69d7ab


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