Yet Another Professor Was Almost Fired For a Political Tweet

Yet Another Professor Was Almost Fired For a Political Tweet
Photo:Martin Meissner (AP)

Lora Burnett, a history professor at Collin College, first got in trouble for her tweets after posting that Mike Pence needed to shut his “little demon mouth up” during the October vice presidential debate. Though the sentiment was accurate, the story soon went viral after Burnett’s tweets were published on a conservative watchdog news site, eventually appearing on Fox News and drawing the ire of the conservative community surrounding the Texas community college.

After the incident, Collin College publicly apologized for Burnett’s tweets, i violation of the school’s own policy, which states that administrators are obligated to defend professors’ free speech, according to the Dallas Observer. In an email to faculty, district President Neil Matkin claimed that he’d heard from legislators demanding Burnett be fired. But when Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) asked the school to release records of those contacts from lawmakers, the college spent months fighting the request before the Texas Attorney General’s office ruled Collin College had to hand over the records.

Apparently, the only legislator who contacted Matkin about Burnett’s tweets was Jeff Leach, a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives, and it appears as though their only discussion was in a brief text message exchange.

“LD Burnet [sic] is paid with taxpayer dollars, correct?” Leach asked.
“I’m aware of the situation Jeff and will deal with it,” Matkin said. “Already on my radar before the current issue.
“She is definitely paid with taxpayer dollars,” he continued.
“Ok cool. I’m getting calls from folks. Not a ton… but a few… as it is starting to percolate on social media,” Leach said.
“My inbox and the board is getting the same,” Matkin replied. “Appreciate you. Good luck in November friend.”

The FIRE records request also reportedly revealed that Collin College spent at least $14,000 just to hide this short text conversation—what a dubious financial decision from an institution that is apparently so terribly concerned with how their taxpayer funding is being spent.

On top of attempting to get Burnett fired, Rep. Leach has also been trolling her on Twitter. After Burnett responded to one of Leach’s tweets last week, the Republican representative replied by celebrating Burnett losing her job—despite the fact that she’s still employed at Collin College. After Burnett corrected Leach’s tweet, calling out the representative for using his position to “suppress the first amendment rights of a citizen” by attempting to get her fired, he flippantly responded to her tweet with a gif of a ticking clock. How smug.

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