A tenured professor at a Florida college has officially been fired after claiming that the massacre of elementary school children in Connecticut was a hoax.
Florida Atlantic University has announced that School of Communication and Multimedia Studies professor James Tracy was served a notice of termination earlier this week, with his last day set as this Friday. The school had previously sent Tracy a notice of proposed discipline, giving the professor 10 days to respond. It is unknown whether or not he did, in fact, respond.
While the school did not give an official reason for his termination, the parents of one of the Sandy Hook students who was murdered recently told a Florida newspaper that Tracy had been taunting them. Lenny and Veronique Pozner, the parents of fallen 6-year-old Noah, told the paper that Tracy had lashed out at them for their wishes that photos of their son stay out of the hands of conspiracy theorists, going so far as to provide proof that Noah had in fact lived, that they were his parents, and that they were the owners of his photographic image, writes Tobias Salinger for The New York Daily News.
Tracy previously found himself in trouble in 2013 after writing in his blog that the Sandy Hook killing was staged, putting into question the story of those who survived the killing of 26 children and teachers by gunman Adam Lanza. His blog, Memory Hole, instead suggested that the events had been staged by the Obama administration in order to push gun control measures.
A post written by Tracy was found on the “Hoax at Sandy Hook” Facebook page suggesting that no one had been killed in the incident, the tragedy had never actually happened, and that “local co-conspirators” were being paid to pretend to be grieving parents, writes Susan Svrluga for The Washington Post.
A copy of the termination notice reached Florida’s Sentinel-Sun newspaper, in which FAU Vice Provost Diane Alperin stated that Tracy had neglected to disclose any outside employment from the school for 3 years and had then filed his disclosure form without mention of his unpaid conspiracy-theory blogging.
“You publicly engage in external personal activity that requires your time and effort,” Alperin wrote. “It is for the administration to decide, with your input, if a conflict exists, and how to manage a conflict where necessary. You have repeatedly and willfully failed to provide the administration the information it needs to discharge its responsibilities.”
An announcement was later made by officials at the United Faculty of Florida, announcing that Tracy would have “fair and vigorous representation” by his union. A statement was released by the union on the matter, stating that due to its personal nature, case specifics could not be discussed. It went on to say that the union took no position on the matter, adding that their responsibility lay in ensuring due process.
Tracy has not made a public comment on the matter and has urged people to talk to his lawyers instead.
Sandy Hook is not the only conspiracy theory Tracy has discussed on his blog. He has also questioned the San Bernardino, California terrorist attack, the Boston marathon bombing, and the Charleston massacre.