(WSYM) — A former Walled Lake teacher is now suing the district after being terminated for tweeting in support of former President Donald Trump, he says.
However, the school district previously told 7 Action News that his support of Trump was not a result of his removal.
Justin Kucera was the varsity baseball coach and a social studies teacher at Walled Lake Western High School.
In the lawsuit, Kucera identifies as a political conservative and Republican.
In July 2020, Kucera tweeted several political messages in support of Trump, including “Donald Trump is my president,” that schools should reopen in the fall, and that political liberals were attempting to divide us and “suck”.
Kucera asserts in the lawsuit that the tweets are political speech protected from government intrusion under the U.S. and Michigan constitutions.
He also maintains that he kept his personal politics out of the classroom. He claims the district "immediately" begun the process of terminating him after the tweets were posted.
According to the lawsuit, Kucera was reportedly summoned to an investigatory meeting via Zoom with an assistant superintended and was questioned over his tweets.
After the meeting, Kucera says, the superintendent allegedly demanded his resignation, which Kucera refused, citing his First Amendment rights. Kucera was then terminated on July 17, 2020, for a "lack of professional judgment."
After his termination was effective, Kucera says he met with the superintendent, who allegedly said that Kucera must admit "wrongdoing," accept a suspension and promise to "do better" if he wanted to return to work.
Kucera said he would not submit to the conditions; in a meeting on Aug. 4, the school board ratified the superintendent's decision and terminated Kucera.
In a statement to 7 Action News in July 2020, the district released the following statement:
As a matter of policy and practice, Walled Lake Schools does not comment on current and/or former employees as it relates to specific personnel issues.
These are difficult times in our community and across our country. When issues arise there’s a temptation to view items through the lens of our fractured political discourse. Walled Lake encourages students and staff members to engage each other with mutual respect and civility.
We believe in the power of education and critical thinking. We believe vigorous community discussion, done with civility and mutual respect leads to productive and innovative outcomes. In the Walled Lake Schools’ educational setting, we encourage positive discourse and working together to make decisions that benefit our community.
View the full lawsuit below: