Summary

First Liberty Institute protected the rights of Karen Jo Barrow, a veteran teacher with a principal’s certificate, when a superintendent in North Texas denied her a position because she refused to transfer her children from a Christian school to the public school. A federal district court ruled against Barrow, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld Barrow’s parental rights. The decision affirmed the rights of parents to choose how to educate their children.

School District Discriminates against Barrow for Choice of Her Children’s Education

Karen Jo Barrow, a 15-year teacher with her principal’s certificate, applied for the position of assistant principal at a middle school in the Greenville Independent School District in Greenville, Texas. The superintendent of the school district denied her the position when she refused to transfer her own children from a Christian school to the public school.

Legal Action

First Liberty Institute represented Barrow and defended the rights of parents to choose religious education for their children without government retribution. However, the U.S. District Court in Dallas held that the right of parents to choose private education was not a fundamental right and ruled against Barrow.

First Liberty appealed and won a 3-0 reversal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Following a two-week trial, a jury found that the superintendent violated Barrow’s constitutional parental rights and awarded her lost wages and punitive damages.

This ruling was critical as it solidified that fact that the decision of whether to hire an individual should not be based on the applicant’s personal decision of where and how to educate his or her own children.

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