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South Shore school system had right to fire teacher who posted or endorsed racist, transphobic and anti-immigrant TikTok messages, judge rules

A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit by a new teacher in Hanover who claimed her First Amendment rights to disparage transgender people, immigrants and Blacks were violated after school officials fired her after learning of her thoughts - in memes she posted after she won election to another town's school committee in an uncontested race.

In her ruling, US District Court Judge Denise Casper agreed with Hanover Public Schools, its superintendent and high-school principal that Kari MacRae's right to say whatever the hell she wants, especially in posts that went up before she was hired as a math and business teacher, had to be balanced against their duty to ensure that none of their students were harmed in the classroom by being taught by a woman who had made it publicly clear she hated them.

School officials said they were unaware of MacRae's views when they hired her in 2021 and only learned of them when they exploded across the pages of the Cape Cod Times and the Boston Globe after the School Committee in Bourne got tipped off and held two meetings to discuss them, one in executive session, one in public. That spring, MacRae had won one of two open seats on the committee by being just one of two candidates - her term runs through next May.

At issue in Hanover was not a video she posted after she voted for herself in the town election - in which she vowed to fight critical race theory, even though it is not taught in Bourne, and to battle those who would tell children they can choose their gender, but five memes she posted to TikTok and a sixth she "liked" that, among other things, claimed immigrants were crossing the border just to get US benefits, that big hairy men in bikini tops were trying out for girl's track teams, that Dr. Rachael Levine, a transgender person serving as assistant secretary of health and human services had some nerve opining about obesity and mental health and that pandas just don't get this whole racism thing because they're black, white and Asian and everybody loves them.

In reach her ruling for summary dismissal of the case, Casper used a long-standing rule in which judges have to weigh the balance between a government employee's First Amendment rights and the rights of a government agency "to maintain legitimate government interest in preventing unnecessary disruptions and inefficiencies in carrying out its public service mission."

The judge concluded that Hanover schools, which have a stated mission that includes ensuring "a safe learning environment based on respectful relationships” and to maintain “[r]espect for human differences,” would have "a strong interest in preventing employee speech that reflects intolerance of groups of people represented in its student body or staff. "

[T]he Court finds that Defendants have adduced ample evidence of the potential for disruption to student learning and to the District's mission which adequately justified MacRae's termination. As a public school teacher, contact with the public, including students and parents who may have been part of groups that MacRae's posts disparaged, was part of MacRae's day-to-day responsibilities. Several colleagues recognized the posts as inconsistent with the District's mission to promote tolerance and respect for human differences. ... Moreover, Defendants' concerns regarding the nature of MacRae's posts were directly tied to a risk of disruption in student learning. Mattos, Ferron and other teachers testified that MacRae's posts, and especially posts regarding transgender students, could make students feel unsafe, unwelcome or otherwise distracted from learning Defendants were entitled to terminate a public-facing employee who had taken a stance in direct contradiction to the District's stated mission.

A greater risk of disruption arose from the growing media attention on MacRae's posts which could have triggered a larger external response in Hanover. The media coverage identified MacRae by name and as a Bourne School Committee member.... Members of the Hanover High School community were able to identify MacRae, then a new teacher to the school, as the subject of that media coverage. ... Even if some parties would have supported MacRae's position or shared her views, the potential for disruption remained.

MacRae was a new teacher who had only taught at most a couple weeks at Hanover High School when news coverage of her social media posts began circulating. [Principal Matthew] Mattos and [Superintendent Matthew] Ferron immediately removed MacRae from her teaching duties and advised staff to keep the matter confidential. School administrators should not be discouraged from taking action to minimize disruption to student learning. ... Moreover, Mattos and Ferron were not merely speculating about the potential disruption. MacRae's same speech had caused considerable controversy in Bourne, resulting in a school Board meeting where teachers, students and parents expressed concerns relating to student safety and the learning environment.

Casper continued that while she agreed with school officials that they did not use MacRae's post-voting video in their determination, but that even if they had, and even if the judge agreed that it should be awarded more First Amendment points because it involve MacRae's race for an elected office, it wouldn't matter in this case:

Finally, even if the Court were to consider the TikTok video a basis for MacRae's termination and accord the same greater First Amendment value, her comments regarding transgender students in the video remained in direct conflict with the District's stated mission, garnered media attention and implicated similar concerns regarding the District's ability to create a safe learning environment for all.

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You can say what you want, but just be ready to deal with the fallout.

Voting closed 1

If a student walked up to her and told her that she was "the stankiest shit-eating whore bitch ever", would she celebrate the kid's freedom to say that to her face?

Or if her students posted her face sloppily edited onto a porn star getting humiliated in a fetish video (in the way that Trump and friends seem to loooove), then it went viral in the community, would she be cheering them on?

Or would she expect there to be some consequences for this "free speech" behavior?

Voting closed 0

Seems that a part of the American citizenry will always have their antenna tuned to who they can condemn, despise, hate and in general treat as subhuman. Is it a parallel that the same folks are ready to pick up on the latest culture warrior theme to rave, shout and scream? Woke today, politically correct yesterday and evolution in the 1920a!. When the word woke is used up they will find another word to anchor their screams and fuming and general hatred.

The regular change of what constitutes reasons for outrage reminds me of a test of truth. Truth means never having to remember what one said. What was true yesterday is true today (unless there are facts, evidence that show the old truth (e.g, slavery) to have been false. But that is the nature of knowledge.

The regular change of language of outrage fails this test of truth. If the outrage was true and real then the language would not have to change from politically correct one decade to work in another.

The regular outrage proven false a fair question is what is the truth to addiction to outrage? Fear and anxiety. Primal, animal, amygdalin fear and anxiety. But most outrage addicts do not have the courage to face their fears.

Voting closed 2

Seems that a part of the American citizenry will always have their antenna tuned to who they can condemn, despise, hate and in general treat as subhuman.

And I will bet dollars to dog donuts that this part has a much higher percentage of members who swear that they love Jesus than any random selection of the general public.

Voting closed 2

I had an aunt (she has departed to - well, I'm not qualified to judge where) whose Facebook likes, friends or some such included Jesus and Donald Trump. The same aunt who wiped down every surface that a black boy happened to touch on the one occasion ever that someone who was not Trump's favorite skin color happened to be in her house.

So yea. She loved Jesus - so long as he was pink-white, flowing brown hair and said nothing about loving other human beings.

What was pitifully ironic is that this world view of love Jesus, hate the rest, was inherited from a line of bigots. Bigots who I am sure had holy cows when they learned she was marrying a - CATHOLIC! Worse, that she had to convert to obedience to the whore of Babylon to marry her one and only. I was too young to recognize whether her siblings, aunts and uncles lost their coolies when she announced the desire to marry a Papist!

Voting closed 1

Yay, my Hometown made it to UHub!!!

Voting closed 2

♫ If you're a nazi and you're fired, it's your fault (clap, clap)
If you're a nazi and you're fired, it's your fault (clap, clap)
If you're spotted by the mob
And you lose your $%*@! job
If you're a nazi and you're fired, it's your fault (clap, clap) ♫

Voting closed 1