A school principal in Windsor, Vermont, has lost her job over a Facebook post perceived as racist. This story is one of many in the recent past where people have lost their jobs over BLM-critical remarks on social media.
According to the 50-page decision released by the school’s board, Tiffany Riley, who was the principal at Mount Ascutney School, made a Facebook post that was “denigrating, derogatory, or contrary to the movement for social equity for African Americans, including the Black Lives Matter movement.”
We obtained a copy of the decision for you here.
Here’s what the Facebook post said:
“I firmly believe that Black Lives Matter, but I DO NOT agree with the coercive measures taken to get this point across; some of which are falsified in an attempt to prove a point. While I want to get behind BLM, I do not think people should be made to feel they have to choose Black race over human race,” Riley wrote on Facebook on the night of June 10.
This post cost her her job.
The post went viral and attracted hundreds of comments. Riley deleted it on June 11 and wrote a follow-up post to explain herself.
“While self-reflecting, researching, learning, and trying to make myself more aware of the struggles of the BLM movement, I recently made a public post that unintentionally offended many people. I understand the struggles of the Black lives community and stand with them in the fight against racism,” she wrote on June 11.
Despite the follow-up post, Riley was put on paid administrative leave on June 12. On July 27, the school’s board members unanimously voted to fire her. However, a termination hearing was held on September 10, per the law.
According to the board, the post went against the principal’s task of promoting racial equity.
“It is unacceptable conduct for a principal to promote equality by day and then, on her own time, make a social media post on Facebook which undermines that work in a way that adversely affects the district, and that is exactly what happened here,” the board wrote in the decision.
She also refused to comply when the superintendent told her to remove the post and post an apology. She did remove the post but followed it up with a post that was not apologetic enough according to the board.
Riley’s attorney said they would appeal the board’s decision in a federal court.
According to her lawyer, the termination is a violation of the First Amendment rights.
“This is about trying to define, what are your First Amendment rights?” the lawyer said. “She believes she had the right to write on her own Facebook. Their argument is that what you wrote on your Facebook caused some disruption in the school, so that’s a basis to terminate you. We say that ‘that’s not true.’”