San José/Evergreen Community College District: Professor Fired for Protected Classroom Speech
Professor June Sheldon, an adjunct instructor at San José City College found herself without a job after a discussion on homosexuality in her Human Heredity course resulted in an anonymous complaint. Sheldon, who was accused of teaching "unscientific" points of view, responded to her letter of termination with a twenty page document asserting her innocence and declaring that her due process rights were guaranteed in her union's collective bargaining agreement. FIRE intervened on Sheldon's behalf, citing her academic freedom rights pursuant and demanded her reinstatement, but the SJCC Board of Trustees affirmed her dismissal. Sheldon's lawsuit, which is assisted by the Alliance Defense Fund and Pacific Justice Institute, is pending.
- "Victory for Academic Freedom: 'Human Heredity' Professor Receives $100,000 Settlement," July 26, 2010: Nearly three years after terminating her over her protected classroom speech, the San José/Evergreen Community College District (SJCCD) has agreed to pay adjunct professor June Sheldon $100,000 in lost earnings in exchange for dismissal of her First Amendment lawsuit. In 2007, Sheldon had led a brief discussion about the nature/nurture debate regarding sexual orientation in her Human Heredity course. After she was fired due to a student complaint, she turned to FIRE for help.
- "Sheldon Stipulation Settlement," July 21, 2010
- "Sheldon Motion to Dismiss Order," November 25, 2009
- "Complaint filed by June Sheldon against the San José/Evergreen Community College District et al.," July 15, 2008
- "Community College Fires Professor for Discussing ‘Nature versus Nurture’ in Classroom," February 22, 2008: A community college in California has fired a professor for leading a brief discussion on the controversial "nature versus nurture" debate regarding sexual orientation during her Human Heredity course. After a student complained that the discussion had been "offensive," the San José/Evergreen Community College District terminated Professor June Sheldon without a proper hearing. She contacted FIRE for help.
- "Professor June Sheldon’s Defense Statement," February 12, 2008
- "FIRE’s Letter to Former SJCC Board of Trustees President Richard K. Tanaka," February 6, 2008
- "Letter of Termination from Vice Chancellor Anita Morris to Professor June Sheldon," December 17, 2007
- "Conclusion of SJCC Dean Leandra Martin’s Investigation into Professor June Sheldon," December 6, 2007
- "Student Complaint Against SJCC Professor June Sheldon," July 25, 2007
- "Victory for Academic Freedom: 'Human Heredity' Professor Receives $100,000 Settlement," by Peter Bonilla, July 26, 2010
- "Weekly Media Round-up: Student Journalists Take the Reins at IUPUI," by Peter Bonilla, July 25, 2008
- "Lawsuit Filed by Professor Fired by San José City College in Nature/Nurture Case," by Adam Kissel, July 21, 2008: The Alliance Defense Fund and Pacific Justice Institute have filed a lawsuit on behalf of June Sheldon, a San José City College biologist who was fired after she briefly discussed aspects of the nature-versus-nurture debate regarding sexual orientation and a student complained. Although Sheldon denied having said the wild things the student had accused her of saying, a weak investigation by her dean (without a proper hearing) led the dean to declare that Sheldon had not been teaching “science,” which led to Sheldon being fired. The lawsuit cites FIRE’s February 8 letter to the San José/Evergreen Community College District and emphasizes the district’s violations of Sheldon’s constitutional rights. Thanks to the ADF and PJI for taking up Sheldon’s case and defending academic freedom.
- "Lawsuit Filed by Professor Fired by San José City College in Nature/Nurture Case," by Adam Kissel, July 18, 2008
- "Professor fired over sexual orientation debate,"
by Joe Murray, The Bulletin, February 27, 2008
- "Adjunct dismissal questioned,"
by Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, February 25, 2008
- "Teacher fired over sexual orientation talk,"
by Lyanne Melendez, ABC7 KGO San Francisco, February 22, 2008