A school district proposed the termination of a teacher's continuing contract based on multiple tweets that she directed to President Donald Trump on his official Twitter feed. The tweets included statements such as that the district “is loaded with illegal students from Mexico” and that “anything you can do to remove the illegals… would be greatly appreciated.” The tweets were publicly posted and came to the attention of the district when it began to receive communications expressing concern and/or outrage and the possibility that a teacher was attempting to have students removed from school. The superintendent responded to the community concern with a voicemail sent to all parents, reassuring them that all children are welcome in the district. Ultimately, the tweets became the subject of national and international news articles and broadcasts.

The teacher requested a hearing regarding the proposed termination of her contract, arguing that her tweets were protected First Amendment speech. She argued that she did not understand that her comments were publicly available and that she believed that they could only be read by President Trump. She also argued that her tweets were not made pursuant to her official duties with the district and were not made on district property or using district equipment. She was an effective teacher and there was no credible evidence to show that she asked students if they were in the country illegally or failed to teach any student assigned to her.

Statements made by teachers receive First Amendment free speech protection when they involve matters of public concern. In this case, the teacher argued that her tweets addressed matters such as illegal immigration, its effect on drug dealing on her campus, and possible improper conduct on her campus by her administrator. The district argued that the statements were not protected free speech, in part because they did not comply with the district’s standards of professional conduct and caused a substantial disruption to district operations.

Based on the testimony and arguments presented at the hearing, the independent hearing examiner found that the teacher was engaged in protected free speech when she posted her tweets and recommended that she be reinstated to her position. The hearing examiner issued findings that the district may not limit a teacher’s right to free speech by policy and that it failed to prove that the teacher did not meet expected standards of conduct. The Board of Trustees rejected that recommendation and voted to terminate the teacher's contract. The teacher appealed that decision to the commissioner of education, who upheld the decision of the independent hearing examiner and ruled that the teacher was entitled to reinstatement. The district decided to appeal that decision and the case is expected to be heard in district court.