Davidson County judge rules on former MNPS director’s severance agreement clause

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Davidson County Chancery Court judge ruled Tuesday afternoon in favor of three Metro school board members who sued over a former district director’s censorship clause.

Earlier this year, school board members Amy Frogge, Fran Bush, and Jill Speering sued over the legality of former Metro Nashville Public School Director Shawn Joseph’s school board censorship clause contained in Joseph’s severance agreement. 

Tuesday, Judge Ellen Hobbs Lyle struck down the censorship clause as unconstitutional.

The clause prohibited school board members from criticizing Dr. Joseph or his performance during his time of leading the district.

“This is a landmark victory on behalf of both elected officials’ free speech rights and citizens’ right to hear from their elected representatives,” said attorney Daniel Horwitz, who represented all three plaintiffs.  “Metro and Joseph should be ashamed of their efforts to gag elected officials and prevent them from speaking honestly with their constituents about issues of tremendous public importance, and their illegal attempt to do so should serve as a costly warning to other government officials to think twice before violating the First Amendment.”

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