Lora Burnett, a former teacher at Collin College has reached a settlement with the school for $70,000 after she filed a lawsuit accusing the institution of not renewing her contract because of her social media posts criticizing VP Mike Pence and the school’s COVID-19 protocols. Burnett claimed the school’s actions violated her First Amendment rights.
Burnet’s tweets happened in 2020, during the vice presidential debate, where she wrote that Pence needed to “shut his little demon mouth”. She also expressed disagreement with the school’s handling of the pandemic, she signed a letter outlining worries about the school’s reopening plan along with other professors.
According to a letter from Collin College’s HR department, the school decided to settle in order to maintain “a harmonious or disruptive-free working environment that does not include the type of conduct that you have chosen to engage in,” rather than admitting to any wrongdoing. The school cited a number of reasons why they decided not to renew Burnett’s contract, “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.”
It’s with noting that Collin College is currently facing additional lawsuits, one of them regarding a professor’s right to free speech as well. A second suit was filed by a former employee who allegedly faced discrimination from the school on the basis of race and disability.