Texas schoolteacher Georgia Clark.
Texas schoolteacher Georgia Clark.

Teacher’s sacking divides America

A Texas teacher who asked Donald Trump to "remove the illegals" from her high school has officially been sacked.

The Fort Worth Independent School District board on Tuesday unanimously voted to uphold its June decision to terminate Georgia Clark, Fox 4 News reported.

Ms Clark may now appeal her sacking with the Texas Education Agency.

The English and language arts teacher had been put on paid administrative leave over a series of anti-illegal immigration tweets directed at the US President and the White House complaining about "illegal students from Mexico" that had "taken over" her school.

"I do not know what to do. Anything you can do to remove the illegals from Fort Worth would be greatly appreciated," she wrote in May, adding her contact phone numbers.

 

 

In one post from her handle @rebecca1939, which was deleted soon after the tweets began to go viral, she asked Mr Trump for a contact "who should be actively investigating and removing the illegals that are in the public school system".

In another she complained "school districts across the state that consider themselves the 'protectors of illegals' have quietly removed photographs of students so that no one can use the photos to assist federal law enforcement to identify them".

"I need protection from recrimination should I report it to the authorities but I do not know where to turn," she wrote. "Texas will not protect whistleblowers. The Mexicans refuse to honour our flag."

The tweets copped widespread backlash from US media outlets - many of which euphemistically refer to illegal aliens as "undocumented immigrants" or just "immigrants" - and sparked an investigation by school authorities.

After the board voted 8-0 to terminate her in June, superintendent Kent P. Scribner was reported in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as telling the meeting, "Fort Worth serves 86,000 students, and it is our goal that we treat each one with dignity and respect, and based on the information that we have, we think this is the most responsible recommendation at this time."

According to the newspaper, the Fort Worth school district is more than 60 per cent Hispanic, and at Carter-Riverside High School where Ms Clark worked, the student body is 87.5 per cent Hispanic. White students are the second biggest demographic at 5.1 per cent followed by African-Americans at 4.4 per cent.

In June, Yahoo News quoted an unidentified former teacher in the district who said they were "shocked" to see Ms Clark's tweets. "I worked at a high school in Fort Worth with a very high percentage of undocumented students," they said.

"These kids worked very hard to create a better life here for themselves, many of mine obtaining scholarships at university for engineering, business, and medical degrees. I am disheartened to hear an educator would use their position as a political platform to promote hate and discrimination especially in a manor (sic) we as educators are trying to curb, social media."

In a fact sheet about employee free speech rights, the Texas Association of School Boards notes that while employees "do not shed their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate … when employees' communications are work-related, school employers may exercise a high degree of control".

In 1982, the US Supreme Court ruled that illegal immigrants are entitled to public education. Four families sued a Texas district in 1977 after their children were kicked out of school. The state had passed a law two years earlier cutting off funding for illegal immigrant students in public schools.

Five years later, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the families, finding that the Texas law violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.

"If the State is to deny a discrete group of innocent children the free public education that it offers to other children residing within its borders, that denial must be justified by a showing that it furthers some substantial state interest," Associate Justice William J. Brennan Jr. wrote in the majority decision. "No such showing was made here."

In his dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger described the ruling as "disturbing". "If ever a court was guilty of an unabashedly result-oriented approach, this case is a prime example," he wrote.

 

frank.chung@news.com.au


Smoke hangs over town

Smoke hangs over town

VERANDA TALK: Dr Airdre Grant's weekly column

Five ways to help during bushfires

premium_icon Five ways to help during bushfires

How to help your community during bushfires