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Oklahoma nonprofit creates legal fund to support teachers accused of violating HB 1775

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An Oklahoma nonprofit is announcing a new legal fund to protect teachers accused of violating House Bill 1775, which limits critical discussions in the classroom about race or sex.

The program will be funded through donations and managed by the nonprofit Oklahoma Appleseed. The group will provide legal representation for teachers targeted for defamation, discipline or dismissal for “common, accepted or constitutionally protected speech or activities in the classroom.”

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An Oklahoma nonprofit is announcing a new legal fund to protect teachers accused of violating House Bill 1775, which limits critical discussions in the classroom about race or sex.

“The primary role of the Freedom to Teach Fund is to initiate and support litigation that enforces teachers’ constitutional rights to free speech and their due process rights to keep their teaching certifications,” reads the organization’s website.

The announcement comes on the heels of Ryan Walters’ State Superintendent election win. Following the resignation earlier this year of a Norman teacher who shared access to free library books, Walters falsely claimed she was fired and called for her teaching certification to be stripped.

Leslie Briggs, the incoming legal director of Oklahoma Appleseed, said teachers are entitled to due process before losing their licenses, and the stakes in Oklahoma are high.

“We know that public schools are the lifeblood of civic engagement,” Briggs said in a press briefing. “We know that a public education that is robust, that is high quality, that introduces competing ideas, creates a generation of critical thinkers who can engage and self-govern. With this fund, we’re going to help protect that system.”

Donations for the legal fund open on Giving Tuesday — Nov. 29 — and can be made here.

Beth Wallis is StateImpact Oklahoma's education reporter
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