Sebring v. MPS

Published on: Sep 13, 2021

Case Name: Sebring v. Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS)

Type of Case: First Amendment

Court: Milwaukee County Circuit Court

Case Number: 

Filed On: July 8, 2021

Current Status: Lawsuit filed on July 8, 2021

Press Releases

WILL SUES MPS FOR UNCONSTITUTIONAL UNION LEAVE POLICY

July 8, 2021 | WILL filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on behalf of a Milwaukee resident challenging a Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) union leave policy.

MPS POLICY PAYS PUBLIC EMPLOYEES TO WORK FOR TEACHERS UNIONS

January 28, 2021 | WILL filed a Notice of Claim, Thursday, on behalf of a Milwaukee resident challenging a Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) union leave policy.This policy amounts to compelled speech because it forces Milwaukee taxpayers to subsidize labor union activities, which includes working on elections and lobbying.

The Lawsuit: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on behalf of a Milwaukee resident challenging a Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) union leave policy. Under this policy, MPS pays public employees full wages and benefits to engage in union-related activities instead of the jobs they were hired for at the school district. This policy amounts to compelled speech because it forces Milwaukee taxpayers to subsidize labor union activities. The policy also violates the Constitution’s requirement that all spending be for a public purpose and not for the benefit of a private entity, like a labor union.

Background: Milwaukee Public Schools adopted a union leave policy (page 49) that permits MPS employees to use at least ten days per fiscal year for paid union leave. Any MPS employee using union leave is working solely as a “representative” of a labor union for the purpose of participating in “union-related activities.” And under the MPS union leave policy, MPS employees are not restricted from engaging in a variety of political activities including advancing the direct interests of the public employee unions.

The United States Supreme Court recently affirmed in Janus v. AFSCME that “[c]ompelling a person to subsidize the speech of other private speakers raises similar First Amendment concerns.” And the Wisconsin Constitution recognizes that the freedom of speech “includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all.” The MPS union leave policy amounts to taxpayers subsidizing the speech and activities of labor unions – a form of unconstitutional compelled speech.

During the 2017, 2018, and 2019 school years, MPS spent thousands of dollars paying employees for hundreds of hours working on behalf of labor unions for the labor unions’ private purposes.

WILL filed a Notice of Claim in January warning MPS that the union leave policy would result in a lawsuit. A lawsuit was then filed on July 8, 2021.

Rick Esenberg

Rick Esenberg

President and General Counsel

rick@will-law.org

Lucas Vebber

Lucas Vebber

Deputy Counsel

lucas@will-law.org

Anthony LoCoco

Anthony LoCoco

Deputy Counsel

alococo@will-law.org

CASE DOCUMENTS

WILL’s Complaint, July 8, 2021

Notice of Claim, January 28, 2021

Media and Commentary

WIll Blog | CLASSROOM TRANSPARENCY IS THE KEY TO FIGHTING CRT

August 5, 2021 | Dan Lennington
The battle over critical race theory (CRT) and related concepts is escalating in school districts across the country.

Education Week | Who’s Really Driving Critical Race Theory Legislation? An Investigation

July 19, 2021 | Sarah Schwartz
The furor over critical race theory in schools has reached a fever pitch this summer, becoming a central issue in school board debates and on cable news programs alike.

Cap Times | Republican proposal would require school districts to post curriculum lists online

July 8, 2021 | Scott Girard
A group of Wisconsin Republicans is proposing a bill aimed at making school district curricula more transparent at a time when what’s being taught in classrooms has become a political talking point.

Wisconsin Spotlight | CULTURE WARS IN THE CLASSROOM

May 28, 2021 | M.D. Kittle
In some of Wisconsin’s most conservative school districts, critical race theory, antiracism, the “1619 Project” and other racism-based curriculum wrapped in leftist ribbons and bows like “equity” and “inclusion” are being drilled into students of all ages.

Empower Wisconsin | Time to shine light on what schools are teaching our kids

May 6, 2021 | Will Flanders and Jessica Holmberg
More than ever, America’s culture wars are on prominent display in our schools. Recently, a Madison school proposed racially segregated meetings for individuals to cope with the verdict in the George Floyd case—only stopping when the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) pointed out that this was unconstitutional.
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