GFT’s lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, which means the teacher’s union can bring back their complaint to the District Court of Guam.
Guam – Although their case was dismissed, the Guam Federation of Teachers says there is still hope to re-file a lawsuit challenging local law that proposes to punish teachers for misconduct or immoral behavior.
Attorney Josh Walsh represents local union Guam Federations of Teachers in a lawsuit filed against the Guam Commission for Educator Certification. It’s over a local law that would decertify teachers for immoral conduct.
The lawsuit was dismissed last week by Chief Judge Ramona Manglona, who noted in her decision that because no injury has actually occurred—in other words, no teacher has been decertified or threatened with decertification—then the case is not ripe for adjudication.
“Whether or not there’s not an injury ongoing now I’m not sure I completely agree with the judge about that,” says Walsh.
This is because Attorney Josh Walsh says the absence of a clear injury does not negate a less obvious injury.
“It’s one thing to say I’m injured clearly because I’m being decertified or I’m injured clearly because I’m losing my job, but if you’re adjusting your behavior, if you are not doing certain things, if you are not purchasing certain books, if you are not talking to your students about certain subjects, if you’re carrying yourself differently, I think there’s an injury there too,” notes Walsh.
In her decision, Judge Manglona noted that “until such a proceeding commences or is imminent, no GFT members are being deprived of their rights.”
“So maybe the wedding pictures from my gay friend’s wedding this weekend is something that doesn’t bother me. I’m not sure if it will bother this commission so maybe I don’t put it on my Facebook page,” explains Walsh. “So even though the law is completely clear that you can love whoever you want and get married to them, not everybody’s morality is clear on that subject. So if I have to go defend myself on that because the teacher certification law doesn’t say legal or illegal, it says moral or immoral, then we’ve got problems.”
Judge Manglona acknowledged in her decision that her dismissal of the lawsuit does not deny the legitimacy of the teachers’ union’s concerns. The judge is giving GFT up to 30 days to amend their complaint.
“It seems certainly that the judge is open to continue this case along those lines and that’s why she said come back in 30 days and make some new allegations along those lines,” explains Walsh.
We asked whether GFT plans to come back to the judge within 30 days.
“I think we’re gonna have to talk, GFT and I will talk about that, talk about the various options here,” he says.