We recently discussed a Vermont school principal who was told she needed to retire after saying her opinion about Black Lives Matter on her personal Facebook page. Now a popular social science teacher and baseball coach has become a Walled Lake Western High School fired in Michigan after tweeting his support for President Donald Trump and reopening schools. For freedom of speech advocates, 28-year-old Justin Kucera's dismissal raises concerns that he could be another teacher who has been fired for expressing unpopular views outside school. The district denies that he fired Kucera for supporting Trump, but that means someone is lying: either Kucera or the district. For part, Kucera said that it was the tweets that the district raised, not some other reason for the termination.
Kucera was invited to a zoom meeting after three tweets. In the first tweet he retweeted the president and said: "SCHOOLS MUST BE OPEN IN AUTUMN !!!" He also tweeted, "I'm done with keeping silent. @RealDonaldTrump is our president … Don & # 39; t @ me." When someone replied to this tweet, Kucera replied, "Liberals suck man." He later deleted this last tweet.
A few days later, he was invited to meet Michael Lonze, deputy superintendent for human resources at Walled Lake Consolidate Schools, and Bradley Paddock, executive director of the human resources department, and two union representatives. He was asked about his tweets and later advised that he had to resign or be released.
As so often on the blog, I'm not interested in the merits of these views. In fact, we have often defended teachers who have expressed anti-Trump views. Kucera supports the president and wants schools to be opened. He also insulted liberals and deleted that insult. The question is whether a teacher can participate in the expression of such political views.
In most schools, expressing anti-Trump or anti-conservative views doesn't seem to be a problem. In fact, my own school in George Washington is under fire because it recommended incoming students to read a book entitled Conservatism and Racism and why they are the same in America. Imagine that you are a conservative student who comes to GW and this is the book that the school wants you and others to read. When confronted with this recommendation, George Washington University did not apologize to all conservative students and did not include a book criticizing all liberals. She has not apologized to the small minority of the school's conservative faculties to reassure them that they are not de facto racists.
Conservative critics have found that Walled Lake teachers have assigned articles on "How to Defeat Trump". It wasn't in personal social media, it was in the classroom. Likewise, a kindergarten teacher in the Trump district in 2016 is said to have described on Facebook as "sociopath" and "narcissist", but was not released. I wouldn't want one of the teachers to be fired. The question is why Kucera is not granted the same freedom of expression.
This brings us back to rejection. The district basically called Kucera a liar. It is cited that "due to President Trump's support, no disciplinary action has been taken". It then refused to address the reasons for the termination. It made the following rather opaque additional comment: "When problems arise, there is a temptation to look at objects through the lens of our broken political discourse. Walled Lake encourages students and staff to engage with each other with respect and courtesy."
There is obviously public concern that this action took place so soon after these tweets. It would be useful for the district to categorically state that it did not raise the tweets for the purpose of this meeting. It could also be addressed whether it accepts that teachers are allowed to participate in political speeches. While Kucera went too far in the tweet about Liberals, he deleted it.
Since Kucera has already spoken publicly of the reasons for his termination, he should not exempt the district from a confidentiality obligation regarding the reason for the termination. Again, someone is lying or shadowing the truth. If the tweets were triggered in the meeting, the district should (at least) have admitted that they were part of the reason why it was dragged into the meeting. If he was fired for the tweets, he should be reinstated and others disciplined to not only limit freedom of speech but also lie about the public controversy.
This is an important concern for families when the district applies a content-based discriminatory policy regarding language. It is also a big problem if they have been lied to by either the teacher or the administrators. It shouldn't be difficult to find out who, if Kucera refrains from confidentiality or obtains a written explanation for the termination.