MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) – A former Berkeley County teacher said she was forced to resign after posting a video about mask requirements on social media.
Holly Chapman has said in a lawsuit against the Berkeley County School District and its former superintendent, Eddie Ingram, that she was given the option of immediately resigning or being fired after “expressing political frustrations at the intrusion government’s perception of COVID mask mandates and protocols.
The lawsuit alleges that the college teacher, who was hired by the district in August 2015, was never disciplined during her employment and that her assessments by the district reflect that she “has met or exceeded job expectations “.
The lawsuit says the district’s 2018 social media policy recognizes that public employees “maintain their First Amendment rights to comment on matters of public interest.”
Chapman’s costume indicates that she posted the video to Facebook in December 2020, but was not friends with or followed by her students on Facebook. In addition, she stated that her account was under a pseudonym and not her “teacher’s name”.
The lawsuit states that she made “a sexual innuendo” in her speech as “an analogy to government overbreadth, but the innuendo was not objectively explicit or obscene.”
Lawsuit: publications of other teachers on social networks have gone unpunished
Chapman’s lawsuit, however, indicates that prior to his appointment, other teachers in the district, including peers from Chapman’s school, also pledged to post “sexual innuendos and sexually-oriented speeches on social media.” “. This included, according to the lawsuit, a Chapman school teacher who is a stand-up comedian who posted “a steamy comedy on her own Tik-Tok account in her name despite being followed by students on this platform “.
These fellow teachers, according to the lawsuit, were not disciplined.
“The complainant’s speech was less sexual in nature than that of her fellow comedian, but contained a political message opposing government interference in personal affairs,” said the trial, noting the political nature of her speech as the main difference.
Student posted part of the video on Snapchat, leading to a meeting
Around January, a student at Chapman’s school apparently found the video and posted part of it on the Snapchat platform, the lawsuit says.
She says she learned of this repost in mid-February 2021, and a few days later she was called to a meeting with her manager and the district human resources manager and questioned about the video.
The lawsuit says he was asked to prepare a statement, but his first draft was “deemed insufficient” and he was asked to write a follow-up statement “explicitly describing the content of his speech.”
Two days later, on February 19, she was called to another meeting with the district director and human resources director during which she was given the option of resigning immediately or being fired, according to the lawsuit.
Chapman says she asked to speak to a lawyer before signing documents, “but she was told she would not have overtime and that she had to decide immediately whether to be fired or to resign.”
Chapman’s lawsuit alleges that Ingram informed her on March 18 that the district would file a complaint against her with the South Carolina Board of Education for “a termination of employment resulting from alleged misconduct.”
Ultimately, the State Board of Education (as of June 30, 2021) refused to prosecute any charges against the complainant’s license because her speech outside of work on a matter of public interest was protected by the first amendment, “says the lawsuit.
On March 19, she signed a Letter of Intent from the Charleston County School District after being interviewed for a teaching position there, but then the Charleston County School District informed her on the 4th. he may not move forward with the hiring process due to “” concerns on his record, “the lawsuit said.
“Internal CCSD emails dated April 30, 2021 and May 4, 2021 indicated that [Chapman] would have obtained the position she sought at the CCSD had it not been for the reference of the [Berkeley County School District], related to [Chapman’s] political speech ”, indicates the costume.
Chapman alleges wrongful termination and tort interference in a contract against the Berkeley County School District and malicious lawsuits against Ingram. His action seeks damages which include a loss of $ 187,000 in public service loan cancellation, attorney fees, costs and other damages and a jury trial.
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