On Saturday, I posted that the government can’t fire an employee without due process. That is, a government entity has to follow certain steps before terminating the employment of their employees. Many of you disagreed, but I will share with you why I feel that this is so important:
There is a teacher I know who was terminated in violation of this law. Gerry Buell had been teaching for Lake County schools for over 22 years. He was selected as the county teacher of the year. Just a few months later, he posted on his private Facebook page that he was opposed to gay marriage.
On his personal Facebook account, outside of school time, Buell posted a reaction to New York’s passage of homosexual ‘marriage’ saying he “almost threw up.” He also referred to homosexual unions as sinful and referred to it as part of a “cesspool” of behaviors. The local media got ahold of it.
Just for the record, this is his exact comment:
I’m watching the news, eating dinner when the story about New York okaying same-sex unions came on and I almost threw up. Then they showed two guys kissing after their announcement. If they want to call it a union, go ahead. But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool of whatever. God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable?
By the way, if one doesn’t like the most recently posted opinion based on biblical principles and God’s laws, then go ahead and unfriend me. I’ll miss you like I miss my kidney stone from 1994. And I will never accept it because God will never accept it. Romans chapter one.
“It was my own personal comment on my own personal time on my own personal computer in my own personal house, exercising what I believed as a social studies teacher to be my First Amendment rights,” he said.
He was 100% correct, but that didn’t matter to the Lake County school system. Some parents filed a complaint with the school superintendent. Shortly afterwards, he was suspended. Two days after being suspended, he was fired for “violating his professional ethics.”
“We took the allegations seriously,” said Chris Patton, a communication officer with Lake County Schools. “All teachers are bound by a code of special ethics (and) this is a code ethics violation investigation.”
According to the school system, what Buell wrote on his private account was disturbing. They claimed that they were especially concerned that gay students at the school might be frightened or intimidated walking into his classroom. Patton also disputed the notion that Buell’s Facebook account is private.
“He has more than 700 friends,” Patton said. “How private is that – really? Social media can be troubling if you don’t respect it and know that just because you think you are in a private realm – it’s not private.”
So, according to the Lake County, Florida school system, whether or not a government employee has the right to free speech depends on how many people are listening.
Patton said the school system has an obligation to take the comments seriously. He said Buell will not be allowed back in the classroom “until we do all the interviews and do a thorough job of looking at everything – past or previous writings.”
To accomplish that, he said people have been sending the school system screenshots of Buell’s Facebook page.
“Just because you think it’s private, other people are viewing it,” Patton said, noting that the teacher’s Facebook page also contained numerous Bible passages.
Buell hired a lawyer, who sent a notice of intent to file suit for terminating him in violation of his First and Fifth Amendment rights. The school caved in. If government employees were “at will,” that never would have worked.
I want you to ask yourselves- just who in government service needs to have their Constitutional rights protected? In these days of school boards shutting down discussion and declaring that parents are terrorists, do you think that leftist teachers have any fear of being fired? Or do you think it is conservative teachers?
I myself was fired from that same exact school. In October of 2016, we were told to discuss the gay and lesbian lifestyle* and its benefits in the classroom. Click on the link to see the actual handout we were given. I refused. Less than a month later, I was attacked in my classroom by a violent student.
I had worked for that school for exactly one week less than a year, so I was still on “probation.” I could be fired for any reason. I was placed on paid leave. Two months later, the school system told me that, if I resigned, they would not pursue any other actions and would simply tell future employers that I had resigned. The union wanted me to fight. I didn’t think the job was worth fighting for, so I quit.
A month later, the school system tried to have my teaching license revoked by pressing formal charges with the state. Had they been successful, my medical license would also have been revoked. They accused me of attacking the student and even tried insinuating that I was a pervert that was attracted to the teenaged girls in my class.
I wound up spending several thousand dollars on a lawyer, got a hearing, and won my case. Throughout the process, the school hid evidence, manufactured evidence, and played every dirty trick they could. My attorney was livid. After the administrative hearing was over, he wrote a letter to the director of Florida’s DOE, telling them that he had never seen the kind of outrageous behavior from a school system before.
Be careful what you wish for. Remove constitutional protection from government jobs, and the left will be free to eliminate the conservative minority.
* Note that I mentioned this in 2016. This grooming thing has been going on since before Trump was elected. Note also that the CRT stuff has been brewing since at least 2020. I mean to say that both grooming and CRT have been in our schools for at least a decade, perhaps longer.
If it weren’t for the constitutional protections that government employees have, the only voices our children would be hearing are the ones grooming them for the left. It’s important.