A tenured history professor at Bakersfield College in California was sacked after being formally accused of “dishonesty” for publicly disagreeing with fellow faculty members about diversity issues.
After Thursday’s acrimonious public discussion about Matthew Garrett’s fate, the administration took covert action against him. An annotated tape of the meeting showed that most commenters sided with Garrett.
Angelo Frazier, a pastor and Bakersfield’s police chaplain slammed the “unprofessional conduct” allegations against Garrett as a violation of Garrett’s First Amendment rights.
After years of conflict with BC’s more established, left-leaning Social Justice Institute, Garrett and his colleague, Erin Miller, filed a retaliation lawsuit against the district nearly two years ago, citing 1st amendment violations.
After Garrett made public his charges against him in a “request for judicial notice” last month, the district of KCCD is now attempting to have the federal court disregard the charges. On Monday, Garrett sent a notice of protest to the district, effectively blocking his dismissal until an administrative judge hears his case.
It was reported that the First Amendment would be violated if KCCD fired Garrett, and the letter sent out on Friday states that the board “took action to terminate” Garrett the day before.
In his opening remarks at Thursday’s morning meeting, Board President Romeo Agbalog clarified that this was not an actual trial. In his speech, Garrett highlighted his “unprecedented commitment to scholarship” and that in 2021, he received BC’s “most prestigious service award we offer” for his extensive work on campus.
As chair of the diversity committee on which Garrett and other academics participated, criminal law professor Tommy Tunson told the board that the committee had been rendered ineffective by “clever strategizing by a group of obstructionists” who used “unreasonable rhetoric” to thwart diversity equity, and inclusion initiatives. The KCCD board of trustees met in an executive session on November 21 to discuss firing Garrett.
A letter of caution from FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression) reminded KCCD that Garrett has a First Amendment right to speak on “matters of institutional governance” and that administrators will utilize these standards to punish teachers who voice disfavored ideas selectively.