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Fowler vs. Board of Education Lincold=n COunty, Kentucky

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Mindy Miller

on 11 January 2014

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Transcript of Fowler vs. Board of Education Lincold=n COunty, Kentucky

Fowler vs. Board of

Education Lincoln

County, Kentucky

Mindy Miller EDAD 578
Case Brief Presentation

Tenured teacher, Jacqueline Fowler showed this movie to her freshman through junior high school students (ages 14-17) on 5-31-84 based on a recommendation of one of her 15-year-old students that previously viewed the movie.
-The School Board didn't really approve of the movie stating it was "“immoral, anti-education, antifamily, anti-judiciary, and antipolice” (Fowler v. Board of Educ. of Lincoln County, Ky., 819 F. 2d 657 - Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit 1987).

-Ms. Fowler was discharged from her teaching position on 6-19-84 and told a hearing would take place on 7-10-84 for insubordination and conduct unbecoming of a teacher.

-Ms. Fowler advised the board she was going to bring representation and object the decision.


At the hearing with the board, Ms. Fowler said she believed the movie had “significant value” (Fowler v. Board of Educ. of Lincoln County, Ky., 819 F. 2d 657 - Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit 1987) and believed it should have been shown despite what was happening with her in and out of the classroom (she said she left the room on several occasions and left it up to her student to edit out the "one bad part").

Ms. Fowler “believed the movie portrayed the dangers of alienation between people and of repressive educational systems. She testified that she would show an edited version of the movie again if given the opportunity to explain it.

She stated that she did not at any time
discuss the movie with her students
because she did not have enough time.”
(Fowler v. Board of Educ. of Lincoln County,
Ky., 819 F. 2d 657 - Court of Appeals,
6th Circuit 1987)
Not good Ms. Fowler! The video store clerk even warned you of its content!
-After her termination, Ms. Fowler took action in the district courts suing claiming her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated. After testimony in the district court, Ms. Fowler was reinstated and awarded back pay with interest.

-The school board and superintendent appealed the district court’s decision of awarding back pay, damages and reinstatement to Ms. Fowler to the United States 6th District Court of Appeals.


-This court reversed the district court’s decision claiming the termination did not violate Ms. Fowler’s First Amendment rights, especially since she at no time prepared, previewed, or discussed the movie with the students.

-Due to this lack of forethought, Ms. Fowler “abdicated her function as an educator. Her having the movie shown under the circumstances involved demonstrates a blatant lack of judgment” (Fowler v. Board of Educ. of Lincoln County, Ky., 819 F. 2d 657 - Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit 1987).

-The termination was upheld and with no back pay, damages or reinstatement based on conduct unbecoming of a teacher.

-The Supreme Court did NOT rule on this case. It only went as far as the 6th District Court of Appeals that handles cases from Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan. The 6th District Court vacated the judgment of the district court and dismissed Ms. Fowler’s actions.


-The 6th District Court ruled on 7-21-87 as it did because Ms. Fowler, by her own admittance, at no time prepared, previewed, or discussed the movie with the students nor did she show any remorse for her actions by the willingness to repeat the action, once again by her own admittance.
In your own reflection. . .
How many of you have taken recommendations of class content from your students?

What if that recommendation could be a "teachable moment"??


How many of you have shown movies or videos clips without previewing?


Thinking back to times in your own classroom, have you acted in ways that could place you in a legal situation?
Ms. Fowler fell into a simple and easy trap in our legal system by not thinking though her situation and furthermore not reflecting with remorse about the situation
Ruling and Educational Implications
History of Events
Lincoln County School Board
Regional District Court
U.S. 6th District Court of Appeals
Full transcript