Vegan tutor says personal beliefs cost him his job

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(credit: Screenshot from Evolve Campaign)

(Photo: Screenshot of Allison with sheep, from Evolve Campaigns)

SMITHVILLE, Ohio — A former Wayne County elementary school tutor says his tutoring contract was not renewed because of his views concerning animal rights and veganism.

Keith Allison, who had worked for Green Local Schools as a Title I tutor, found out in August that his contract was being pulled from consideration over what he said were concerns involving a vegan-related post he made to Facebook.

The post included photos of some calves in plastic calf hutches, what Allison calls “crates,” and his criticism over “separating babies from loving mothers.” The post also encouraged the consumption of plant-based milk.

“It was very clearly explained to me, that (post) was the reason,” Allison said.

Rights issue

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio sent a letter to the school Dec. 10, seeking an apology and asking that Allison be reinstated, on the grounds that Allison was expressing his First Amendment rights.

Related: The ACLU letter to the school.

The situation was brought to the ACLU of Ohio’s attention by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the organization Allison first approached for assistance, according to the ACLU.

Not personal

Judy Robinson, school superintendent, insisted it “was not his personal views” that led to the contract not being renewed. She declined to say more because the ACLU is threatening litigation if its terms are not met.

The school’s legal counsel, Roetzel & Andress of Akron, sent a letter to the ACLU Dec. 15, clarifying several facts.

According to the school, Allison was employed as a part-time, hourly tutor for a one-year contract, and “he was not terminated.”

The school maintains that, “He (Allison) was not rehired following expiration of his one-year limited contract. This decision was not based upon Mr. Allison’s vegan views or lifestyle.”

The school concludes that Allison’s “First Amendment rights were in no way violated.”

Not verified

Also, the school’s legal counsel said the ACLU did not verify Allison’s account with the school, prior to issuing a complaint against the school.

The ACLU told Farm and Dairy it didn’t verify the allegations with the school because it was a “personnel matter,” and the ACLU didn’t believe the school would comment on the decision.

Allison said he was told “if I wanted to be a strong vegan advocate that I might want to consider something other than teaching.”

Currently, he is employed as a substitute teacher at various schools. He is part of the Cleveland Animal Rights Alliance and Akron Peace Project.

Personal time

He said his vegan views were never directly taught to his students, and that his activism and social media posts were done on his personal time.

Allison said that he was surprised by a farmer’s concerns over the post, who he said removed his students from the district shortly after. He said he tried to reach the farmer to discuss the matter, but the farmer didn’t return his call.

He said he made the post to demonstrate the separation of baby calves from their mothers.

“I’m a peace activist,” he said. “I’m out there trying to spread love and compassion.”

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Rule #1: Facebook is not private. Keep your messages professional and generic. If you have private business send emails or call. Rule #2: Businesses prefer professional and generic behaviors to politically or controversially motivated behaviors for their employees unless their business is political and controversial. Employers are not your mom. They don’t think you’re cute and love you anyway. Whether they dumped him for his beliefs or not, they had the right according to the contract under which he was hired. This is a learning experience. Welcome to the real world.

  2. I’ve been vegan for 26 years and consider it one of the best decisions of my life (my doctor agrees). I lost 25 lbs within the first few months. Today my blood work and test results are of a man half my age!

    Here’s a short video to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice and why the number of vegans has doubled in the US in less than 3 years.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKr4HZ7ukSE

    Also, here’s a link for everyone who wants to join the revolution: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/step-by-step-guide-how-to-transition-to-vegan-diet/

    • JFC a vegan diet is inconsequential to your health. At 51 I had not had a full Physical for 15 years or been to visit a Dr. I did have a full Medical done and when the young Dr. probably 27 said he was embarrassed that my stats were better than his. And my friend that is eating wild meat, fish, fowl, free-range chicken, pork, turkeys and beef. Home grown vegetables also with msg free soup stocks made from animal bones. There is nothing more satisfying than eating a complete meal grown on your own property. The poor Dr. doing his internship was likely subject to cafeteria food at the Hospital, and other fast foods quickly prepared. Care2 has posted a Love Letter to Aspiring Medical Students which is very worthwhile reading. An insight into bullying, sexual harassment and degradation of a human kind. Life on the farm can be seen as a lot kinder once we become aware of mistreatment in, lets say even W/Health care a highly respected profession.

    • Please, please, please, do not draw parallels between this case and serious issues such as women’s rights. It cheapens your argument. Side note: I agree with your point on politicizing every issue. Just as not every omnivore is a staunch right winger, I’m sure not every vegan is a hard leftist. As far as this story goes, I tend to agree with Maggie b, especially when it comes to employees of a school district. STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA.

  3. and I’m not on the right or left btw David Burke (and others in this farming community) :) some people need to pull their head out of their politics and try to look at things objectively. stop making issues about the “right” or the “left”.

  4. If it wasn’t in the curriculum; it cannot be taught or alluded to as personal belief. Its called being a professional. Zip a lip; save a ship.

  5. A school district should not be able to refuse to renew the contract of an employee because of the views expressed by that person during non-working hours that do not have a connection with his education environment. Teachers and others do not surrender their constitutional rights when they accept a job.

  6. the dairy industry is so cruel that you never see news cameras at their operations,they don’t tell you about the baby calves & mothers crying out for each other when separated. They fail to mention traumatized calves are then mercilessly slaughtered for gluttonous humans. did you know milk WEAKENS your bones? milk does NOT strenthen them ,the industry has fooled you

    • How do you know that calves are traumatized? So every crying human baby is traumatized? Please speak your opinion but do not push it on everyone, that your way is the only way to live.

  7. What has the ACLU to say about PCRM’s Train the Trainer Program where AR’st and Vegans go into Grade Schools subversively, without Parental Consent and indoctrinate children about their views on Veganism, Animal Rights and their opposition to diets where meat and dairy are consumed. Traumatizing children with often staged cruelty films of alleged animal abuse. Are parental and cultural rights respected when this is done without parental knowledge?

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