A former deputy principal of Evergreen Middle School filed a lawsuit against the Central Valley School District on Tuesday, alleging that his First Amendment rights were violated when he was demoted for an explicit Facebook post, in which he called former racist first lady Michelle Obama.
Randey Thompson, 59, has filed a federal lawsuit against not only the school district, but the superintendent and the board of education.
After watching the Democratic National Convention on August 17, 2020, Thompson, a self-proclaimed conservative Republican, posted two explicit messages, according to the lawsuit.
In the first post, he called the convention derogatory and said it was full of lies, including a rant of “hate racist (profanity)” Michelle Obama, according to the lawsuit.
He went on to say that people who believe what was said at the convention are “played by bogus media, athletes and artists (who are really ignorant and flyers with a pedophile man).”
He then posted another explicit post with similar language.
Thompson’s attorney argued in the lawsuit that the messages were private and unpublished during school hours. In the complaint, Thompson also claims that his Facebook page did not identify him as a school district employee.
Two days after Thompson’s appointment, he was put on administrative leave for allegations of unprofessional conduct.
A former colleague, who was one of a dozen Facebook friends to whom the messages had been sent, forwarded the message to another colleague. The post was then sent to Superintendent Ben Small, who put Thompson on leave.
The legal complaint calls the discipline a “vicious attack and attack on Mr. Thompson’s personality and reputation.”
The lawsuit alleges that a “small handful of unidentified people who were personally offended in one way or another” by Thompson’s post, including Small, were used as the reason for disciplining him.
Thompson was put on paid administrative leave for the entire school year before being demoted to a teaching position on May 17, according to the lawsuit.
The Central Valley School District declined to comment on the lawsuit through spokesperson Marla Nunberg.
Thompson appealed the decision and spoke to the school board during the June 14 executive session, according to the complaint. The school board upheld Small’s decision to discipline Thompson, who filed a complaint in response, seeking damages and resuming his role as vice-principal.