LSU professor fired for using profanity seeking damages, reinstatement; 'I don't regret anything that I did' _lowres

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Former LSU education professor Teresa Buchanan, left, speaks after a press conference Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016 at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, following the federal lawsuit she filed Wednesday against LSU's president and other top administrators. At right is Catherine Sevcenko, director of litigation for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (Fire), which is sponsoring Buchanan's lawsuit. The lawsuit says that her free speech and due process rights were violated last year when she was fired.

A former tenured LSU professor fired in 2015 for using vulgarity, and talking about her sex life and the sex lives of students in her elementary education classes, is urging a federal appellate court to reconsider her case.

Teresa Buchanan's civil rights lawsuit was dismissed last year by a federal district judge in Baton Rouge, and last month a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed the dismissal.

Now, Buchanan's attorneys are asking the entire 5th Circuit to rehear the case.

The lawyers contend in a rehearing application that LSU's sexual harassment policies are too broad and defective, and that the university fired Buchanan "at least in part, based on constitutionally protected speech."

"Punishing speech under a policy that fails to distinguish protected from unprotected expression violates long-established First Amendment standards," her attorneys argue.

Buchanan, who worked for LSU for almost two decades, specialized in early childhood education and trained elementary school teachers.

Her controversial comments included saying "f*** no" repeatedly in front of students, using a slang word for vagina that implies cowardice, and joking that the quality of sex declines the longer a relationship lasts.

In her ruling last year, U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick said the LSU Lab School and schools in Zachary, Port Allen and Iberville Parish had either banned Buchanan from their campuses or asked that LSU not allow her to mentor their student teachers because of her conduct and speech.

Buchanan claims the salty language was part of her teaching approach.

The 5th Circuit panel agreed with Dick that LSU did not violate Buchanan's free speech rights by terminating her because Buchanan was not speaking on a matter of public concern.

"Dr. Buchanan's use of profanity and discussion of her sex life and the sex lives of her students was not related to the subject matter or purpose of training Pre-K-third grade teachers," the panel stated.

The American Association of University Professors had come to Buchanan's defense. The group was critical of her firing and pledged money for her legal expenses. Her suit was sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an advocacy group known as FIRE.

LSU maintains Buchanan's termination was not only appropriate but also necessary to protect students from her verbally abusive behavior, which the university says created a hostile learning environment for the students she was hired to teach.

Buchanan contends her language was neither directed at any student nor did it disparage students.


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