Judicial Watch filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Kari MacRae, a Massachusetts high school teacher who was fired in retaliation for posts on social media objecting to the inclusion of critical race theory in schools (MacRae vs. Matthew Mattos and Matthew A. Ferron(No. 1:21-cv-11917).
The lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, asks for damages against Hanover School Superintendent Matthew Ferron and Hanover High School Principal Matthew Mattos for retaliating against MacRae, a math/business teacher at Hanover High School, for exercising her First Amendment rights.
The lawsuit details that MacRae, who was hired as a Hanover High School teacher on August 31, 2021, was fired over several TikTok video posts that were made months prior to her hiring at the school. MacRae, who in May of 2021 was elected to the Bourne School Committee, said she made the posts in her personal capacity as a citizen and candidate for public office.
MacRae was fired on September 29, 2021.
“I got fired specifically for a social media post I made,” she said. “That’s a violation of free speech,” MacRae told the Cape Cod Times in an interview published on October 13, 2021.
The lawsuit details that Mattos met with MacRae on September 24, 2021 to inform her that he was investigating the impact of six memes and two TikTok videos that MacRae posted which were referenced in a September 22, 2021, Boston Globe article.
On May 18, 2021, as part of her campaign for school committee member, MacRae posted a TikTok video which stated, in part:
So pretty much the reason I ran for school board and the reason I’m taking on this responsibility is to ensure that students, at least in our town, are not being taught critical race theory. That they’re not being taught that the country was built on racism. So they’re not being taught that they can choose whether or not they want to be a girl or a boy. It’s one thing to include and it’s one thing to be inclusive. And it’s one thing to educate everybody about everything. It’s completely another thing to push your agenda. And, with me on the school board, that won’t happen in our town.
In a letter dated September 29, 2021, Mattos fired MacRae from her position at Hanover High School, stating “I have determined that continuing your employment in light of your social media posts would have a significant impact on student learning at HHS.” Ferron reviewed and approved Mattos’ decision to fire MacRae.
The lawsuit details that no Hanover High School parent or student had raised concerns about MacRae’s employment at Hanover High School because of the social media posts.
“Kari MacRae was viciously targeted and unlawfully fired as a teacher because she exercised her First Amendment rights to criticize critical race theory,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This civil rights lawsuit aims to hold accountable school district officials who are so desperate to push critical race theory that they will trample the civil rights of our client, Ms. MacRae.
In February 2021, Judicial Watch filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of David Flynn, the father of two Dedham Public School students, who was removed from his position as head football coach after exercising his right as a citizen to raise concerns about his daughter’s seventh-grade history class curriculum being changed to include biased coursework on politics, race, gender equality, and diversity (Flynn v. Forrest et al.(No. 21-cv-10256)).
In July 2021, Judicial Watch filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Palatine, IL, tenured high school teacher Jeanne Hedgepeth, who was fired by the suburban-Chicago school district where she had worked for 20 years after posting comments on Facebook criticizing the riots, violence, and shootings in Chicago in the aftermath of the May 25, 2020, killing of George Floyd. Hedgepeth made the posts on her personal Facebook page while vacationing after the end of the school year, just as some of the most severe violence was occurring. In her posts, Hedgepeth recommended studying Thomas Sowell, whom she described as a “treasure” and a “truth seeker,” and praised political commentator and activist Candice Owens and talk show host Larry Elder. She alleges that the firing violated her First Amendment rights.