BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana has ruled in favor of LSU and dismissed all claims made by Teresa Buchanan in her lawsuit against the university.
The former assistant LSU professor filed of a lawsuit against officials with the university in January of 2016 after she was fired in June of 2015. The lawsuit alleged that in December of 2013, Buchanan was told she would not be teaching the following spring semester because students alleged the professor made inappropriate comments during class. The suit went on to say that Buchanan was told that she would also not be up for promotion to full professor.
In the ruling, the court found Buchanan's speech in the classroom was not protected by the First Amendment and that the university's policies are constitutional, and that she did receive due process.
"We are pleased with the summary judgement that shows that the university's actions regarding Ms. Buchanan were appropriate. As we have state many times, we take our responsibility to protect students, faculty, and staff and to ensure that they have a safe educational and harassment-free environment very seriously," said LSU President F. King Alexander.
The court found Buchanan's use of profanity and discussions about her own sex life and the sex lives of her students in the classroom were not protected under the First Amendment. The court also determined her comments are not matters of public concern and are not, as she claimed, part of overall pedagogical strategy for teaching preschool and elementary education to students.
"We are resolute in supporting academic freedom, which is the cornerstone of university teaching and research. However, this case was not about the rights of tenured professors or academic freedom. We had documented evidence of a history of inappropriate behavior that included verbal abuse, intimidation, and harassment of our students, and we are pleased that the court agreed with the university's actions," said Alexander.
The court also found "the LSU policies, when read together, are not unconstitutionally broad or vague." And regarding due process, the court found "there is simply no summary judgement evidence that plaintiff [Buchanan] was not afforded proper notice and the opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner, including appealing Alexander's recommendation to the board."
The full ruling is available here.