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Your rights as a teacher in Florida matter

As a teacher, you have a number of rights that you need to know about. You aren't just under the thumb of an administration; in fact, you have many rights that are protected by law and the U.S. government.

For instance, you have academic freedoms when you work at a public school; that means that you are able to teach without undue restrictions on the content or subjects of discussions. Of course, there may be times when subjects are those of controversy, which doesn't always result in good publicity for the school. In those cases, it could be a problem for the teacher, but the law does back up the academic freedom to teach in public school systems.

There are a few things you can't do in classrooms, besides the obvious unacceptable behavior like flirting, using sexual innuendos or making plans to see students in a nonprofessional manner. For instance, you can't promote your own personal agendas or your own political agenda while you're in the classroom. The content you're teaching needs to be related to the subject and relevant to your responsibilities to the classroom. Your age, experience and the grade level of the students will all weigh in if you have to go to court over your teaching, and using those factors, the court will decide if your freedoms were used correctly.

As a teacher, you also have the right to associate with any professional, labor or similar organization. You can run for public office, too. The school district can't restrict you from pursuing these activities; however, you may have to complete them outside the hours you're meant to be teaching and independently from your responsibilities as a teaching instructor.

Source: FindLaw, "Teachers' Rights: Overview" Oct. 24, 2014

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