A Texas teacher who was fired in June after tweeting to President Donald Trump asking him to “help remove illegals from Forth Worth” should be allowed to get her job back, the state’s education agency ruled Monday.
Georgia Clark, an English teacher from Fort Worth, was unanimously dismissed by the school board after she reached out to Trump in a series of posts on Twitter. “Mr. President, Fort Worth Independent School District is loaded with illegal students from Mexico,” she wrote in what she thought were private messages to the president. “Carter-Riverside High School has been taken over by them.”
“I really do need a contact here in Fort Worth who should be actively investigating and removing illegals,” another now-deleted post read.
A follow-up tweet asked the president to help “remove illegals from Fort Worth,” along with two phone numbers and said “Georgia Clark is my real name.”
She was fired after school officials were alerted to the tweets.
Clark appealed her job termination, arguing that the school district violated her first amendment rights. In August, an independent hearing examiner reviewed the case and recommended her reinstatement, only to be rejected by the school board. Clark then appealed her case to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
Mike Morath, commissioner of the TEA, said Georgia Clark should be reinstated, with back pay and benefits, or be paid one year of salary instead.
In his rulings, Morath stated that the school district’s decision to her job termination was not justified on First Amendment free speech grounds. Clark’s contract “does not waive her right to contact, outside of the workday, elected officials concerning matters they have jurisdiction over,” reported Fort Worth Star-telegram, citing the ruling document.
Morath also noted that while the district disagreed with the independent examiner’s conclusions of law, it failed to properly challenge those decisions by proposing any changes and explaining why.
“If a school board wants to change conclusions of law, the school board needs to actually draft new or changed conclusions of law and to provide a real explanation of the change,” the ruling stated.
“It appears the commissioner ruled the way he did based on a technicality and we are exploring all of our options,” Barbara Griffith, a spokeswoman for the school district, told Star-Telegram. “This is all we are going to say right now as we have not yet had a chance to review and analyze the entire decision.”
Under state law, the school district has 20 days to demand a hearing over a specific case. If that request is filed, the TEA would have 45 days to make a ruling on that request. Any further appeal would be moved to a district court as a formal lawsuit.