U.S. District Court Grants Summary Judgment and Dismisses All Claims Against LSU in Buchanan Lawsuit
BATON ROUGE – The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana has granted summary judgment in favor of LSU and dismissed all claims by Teresa Buchanan in her lawsuit against university administrators.
“We are pleased with the summary judgment that shows that the university’s actions regarding Ms. Buchanan were appropriate,” said LSU President F. King Alexander. “As we have stated 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.
“We also 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.”
In the ruling, the court found that Buchanan’s speech in the classroom was not First Amendment protected speech, that the university’s policies are Constitutional and not overly broad, and that Buchanan received due process.
Regarding the claims of First Amendment protection, the court found “that Plaintiff’s use of profanity and discussions regarding her own sex life and the sex lives of her students in the classroom do not constitute First Amendment protected speech, are not matters of public concern, and are not, as claimed by Plaintiff, part of her overall pedagogical strategy for teaching preschool and elementary education to students.”
Regarding university policies, the court found “the LSU policies, when read together, are not unconstitutionally broad or vague.” In addition, “the court further finds that Alexander’s conduct – recommending Plaintiff’s dismissal to the Board despite the faculty committee’s recommendation for censure – was also objectively reasonable under the facts of this case. LSU policy clearly allows the Chancellor to make his own recommendation irrespective of that of the faculty committee.”
Regarding due process, the court found “there is simply no summary judgment evidence that Plaintiff 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 ruling is available at http://www.lsu.edu/mediacenter/news/2018/01/summaryjudgement.pdf.
Contact Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations