Federal Agency Targets Teacher for Political Activity

Article excerpt


A federal agency is trying again to remove a Dunbar Senior High School teacher for mixing his academic career with politics.

The federal Office of Special Counsel restarted the process last week by petitioning the federal Merit Systems Protection Board to fire Tom Briggs and make him repay his salary since being rehired in June.

The petition was filed Wednesday, documents show. The board has yet to act on the petition, which could require the D.C. Public Schools to discharge Mr. Briggs again. Federal and school officials could not be reached for comment.

"For them to wait 11 months before they decided to do anything is ridiculous," Mr. Briggs said yesterday. "I don't want to leave my job and I don't have the money to pay back. The whole thing has been unjust."

Federal officials first ordered the firing of Mr. Briggs, a teacher at Dunbar since 1999, in April 2002 for violating the 52-year-old Hatch Act.

The act prohibits part-time or full-time federal employees from seeking election to public office but was amended in 1942 to exempt teachers.

The exemption was extended in 1993 for teachers in the 50 states, but not for those teaching in the District.

Mr. Briggs said he was warned about the prohibition in September 2000 when he ran on the D.C. Statehood Green Party ticket against City Councilman Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat.

"I never campaigned during school hours," he said. …