Electioneering In Math Class


Politics in math class? Students at Brevard Community College were not only directed to solve mathematical equations but told who they should vote for in the presidential election. Sharon Sweet, a professor at the college, allegedly urged and may have even mandated that her students vote for President Barack Obama. An investigation was conducted in order to more fully understand the extent of Ms. Sweet’s actions.

A concerned parent complained of Ms. Sweet’s electioneering in September alleging that students were forced to sign a pledge card obligating them to vote for President Obama and other Democratic candidates on the ticket for the November election.  The College released a statement detailing the results of the investigation which found that Ms. Sweet strongly encouraged or required that students sign a pledge card stating: “I pledge to vote for President Obama and Democrats up and down the ticket”. Additionally, the investigation revealed that Ms. Sweet’s actions allegedly caused significant discomfort among students as they felt that their Professor’s campaigning amounted to an invasion of privacy. Students also feared that failure or refusal to sign a pledge card would have a detrimental impact on their grade.

Ms. Sweet has been placed on paid leave since September pending the outcome of the case. However, investigators urge that Ms. Sweet be terminated from her position as tenured professor. Ms. Sweet will have the opportunity to respond to the investigator’s conclusions and recommendations.

If your institution has any further questions or concerns about education law related matters, please email Cynthia Augello at caugello@cullenanddykman.com or call her at (516) 357-3753.

A special thanks to Cynthia Thomas a law clerk at Cullen and Dykman LLP, for help with this post.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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