The First Amendment does not allow New York City’s Department of Education to function as a Department of Conformity.

But that’s exactly what’s been happening in Community Education Council (CEC) 14. There, CEC 14 leaders have punished and chilled the speech of individuals who do not conform to the personal political views of the board’s leaders.

Aiding them in this effort is the New York City Department of Education’s (DOE) Regulation D-210, which governs the speech of CEC members and members of similar citywide advisory boards. The regulation permits anyone to file a complaint that then triggers an investigation and potential removal of CEC members for speech that others find offensive or disrespectful—even speech that may occur outside of CEC meetings.

That’s why the Institute for Free Speech has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of three elected parent leaders, challenging the unconstitutional conduct of CEC 14 officials Tajh Sutton and Marissa Manzanares, as well as the DOE’s unconstitutional policies.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, contends that Sutton and Manzanares have unlawfully excluded individuals from public meetings and blocked critics on social media, weaponizing their disdain for anyone who might push back against their ideological worldview. CEC 14’s actions and the D-210 regulation have chilled and punished the speech of parents Deborah Alexander, Noah Harlan, and Maude Maron, who serve as elected members of other New York City educational committees.

To read the full press release regarding the filing of the case Alexander, et al. v. Sutton, et al., click here. To read the complaint, click here.

United States District Court Eastern District of New York
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