Former professor claims she was fired in retaliation over COVID-19, criticism of Pence

Former professor claims she was fired in retaliation over COVID-19, criticism of Pence

A Texas college professor on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against her former school alleging that she was fired after criticizing the school's approach to COVID-19 and speaking out against former Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump endorses challenger to Hogan ally in Maryland governor's race Pence to headline New Hampshire event focused on Biden spending plan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Arbery case, Biden spending bill each test views of justice MORE.

Lora Burnett received a notice from Collin College in McKinney, Texas, in February telling her that her teaching contract would not be renewed for the following semester, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Burnett, who taught history at the college and has criticized school leadership on social media, alleged in the lawsuit that her termination violated her First Amendment rights, the news outlet noted.

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“Collin College, they’ve been betting for a long time on their ability to intimidate their professors without ever having to answer for it,” Burnett said. “I want them to answer for it.”

The lawsuit was filed by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education against Collin College President Neil Matkin and the board of trustees, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Burnett's comments about Pence were picked up by conservative news outlets at the time of last year's vice presidential debate. Many outlets referenced her employment at Collin College.

At the time, the news outlet reported, Burnett tweeted, “The moderator needs to talk over Mike Pence until he shuts his little demon mouth up."

Matkin condemned the comments in a letter sent to faculty, and Burnett was given an employee coaching form regarding the matter.

“Collin College is aware of the hateful, vile and ill-considered Twitter posts by one of its faculty members,” a school statement read at the time. “As a community, we cannot and will not ignore them.”

She was sent a notice on Feb. 25 that her contract would not be renewed due to “insubordination, making private personnel issues public that impair the college’s operations, and personal criticisms of co-workers, supervisors, and/or those who merely disagree with you.”

Burnett reportedly appealed the decision, but it was denied. She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in her suit as well as the college to state that her termination violated the First Amendment.

“I actually didn’t expect that the college would be foolish enough to blatantly disregard the law of the land in a way that would open them up to so much liability,” Burnett told The Dallas Morning News.