The Fort Worth Independent School District says they'll appeal a ruling by the Texas Education Commissioner that allows an English teacher to keep her job after she was fired for tweeting to President Donald Trump that her high school was full of students who are in the country illegally.
Earlier this year, several tweets from a now-deleted Twitter account that used Clark's name asked the president to crack down on student immigration at the school. One tweet asked him to help remove "illegals from Fort Worth."
Her tweets sparked an outcry, and the district placed Clark on administrative leave in May. In June, the district board unanimously voted to fire Clark. She told a district investigator that her tweet was meant only for President Donald Trump's eyes and that she didn't realize her tweets could be seen by the public.
Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath ruled Monday that Carter-Riverside High School teacher Georgia Clark's tweet was protected by the First Amendment, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Morath also determined that Clark is entitled to back pay and employment benefits, or the Fort Worth Independent School District can pay her a year's salary.
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The district said Tuesday "the Commissioner's decision was not based on the merits of the case but rather a procedural technicality with which the District does not agree. Mr. Morath said, in his ruling, that the Board did not adopt a finding that good cause exists to terminate Ms. Clark's contract Sept. 17. Accordingly, the Fort Worth ISD will appeal this decision and will do so in the next 20 days."
Under state law, the district has 20 days to ask for a hearing, based on a specific problem it feels was ignored. If that request is filed, the Texas agency would have 45 days to rule on the request. Beyond that, any additional appeal would come in the form of a lawsuit in district court.
The district said trustees voted 8-0 to uphold their earlier decision to terminate Clark's continuing teacher contract for good cause pursuant to Chapter 21 of the Texas Education Code.
In August, an independent hearing examiner suggested that the board reinstate Clark after finding her job termination unjustifiable. But the board rejected the recommendation and upheld the decision to fire her.
"We stand by our decision because we firmly believe this is in the best interest of all students," Superintendent Kent P. Scribner said.
It wasn't the first time Clark's job was in jeopardy. In 2013, the board voted to fire her over her language and behavior toward students, but a teachers group intervened and helped resolve the situation.