Mr. Richard Mullens, who has been a teacher since 1971 and in in Brookeland (TX, US) for 6 years, resigned his position after the Brookeland Independent School District placed him on paid administrative leave. Brad Watkins of Democracy for America published an account of events by Mr. Mullens in which Mr. Mullens said that being placed on leave and then resigning had followed confrontations with a parent who accused him of being an atheist and of being “too liberal.”
According to Emily Guevara of the Beuamont (TX, US) Enterprise, writing under the headline “Brookeland ISD teacher resigns under pressure from school, parents,” Mr. Mullens believes that he was forced to resign because of his views on religion and government (a parent apparently accused him of being an atheist and a liberal).
Richard Mullens, a teacher for more than 30 years, resigned his position as history teacher after being placed on paid administrative leave by the Brookeland Independent School District.
Richard Turner, the high school’s principal, said parents had voiced concerns about Mullens’ classroom management.
These parents told school board members at a January board meeting that Mullens ran his classes too loosely and allowed students to discuss inappropriate topics, Turner said by phone Thursday.
According to Ms. Guevara’s story, Nicole Ard (who has been a student of Mullens’ for five years and is senior class president) “said that two students started a petition to get Mullins back, but were told by the school principal to stop. Turner said he had not heard of any students starting a petition.” That sounds pretty questionable to me. I’d like to know what some free speech folks would say about whether it’s appropriate for a school administrator to squelch students’ speech in that way.
Of course another issue is the question about whether a teacher’s purported atheism should play a role in hiring and firing decisions. I do not know Mr. Mullens’ religious views, but if they were a factor in the events, I have to bet that it’s going to blow up in the Brookeland schools’ faces.
This should be an entertaining story to follow! I wonder if the TJ Center will pick up on it.
Link to Ms. Guevara’s story from which I quoted. Link to the post by Mr. Watkins of Democracy for America that includes Mr. Mullens’ recounting of events (and some interesting comments). Flash of the electrons to Liz Ditz for this one. Liz noted that PZ Myers had an entry on this topic at Pharyngula.