Illinois teacher fired for anti-BLM reveals ‘everyone is scared’ over free speech implications

An Illinois teacher spoke out this week about being fired for the thought crime of criticizing the Black Lives Matter riots in Chicago.

Jeanne Hedgepeth explained to Fox News that she is not guilty after the school board voted 5-2 last summer to oust the Schaumburg Illinois high school teacher for a social media post they alleged “harm[ed] students.” The 20-year veteran teacher’s counsel questioned the number of other teachers who are being covertly monitored on social media by school boards or unions.

Over Memorial Day weekend in 2020, Hedgepeth took to social media to bemoan the rioting, looting, and violence that was happening in downtown Chicago, which is less than an hour from her hometown, in response to the death of George Floyd. In fact, that same weekend in the Windy City, 10 people were killed and 49 people were shot.

“I don’t want to go home tomorrow. Now that the Civil War has begun, I want to move,” Hedgepeth wrote the day before returning home. She posted the comment along with a beach photo.

A lawsuit was filed by Judicial Watch, a government accountability advocacy group based in Washington D.C. to dispute Hedgepeth’s termination. The district, school board members, and Human Resources Director are all named in the lawsuit.

In an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham on “Ingraham Angle,” Hedgepeth explained that she had no history of being racist but was “freaked out” that people were supporting the rioting.


(Video Credit: Fox News)

After she was told on social media to “shut up with [her] white privilege, “she posted a longer comment that she holds was innocent.

“I have worked for the district for 20 years. I took pride in my work. I loved my job and students. I am the sole supporter of my daughter. I was really upset about the rioting,” she told Ingraham.

“Protesting we need more, but rioting: none. People were supporting [the rioting and] it was freaking me out. I made a few comments,” Hedgepeth explained. “I had a conversation with a young lady who told me to shut up with my white privilege.”

Her online comments apparently upset several others who viewed them.

She didn’t cower to the inaccurate descriptions of herself and reiterated her objection to being called racist.

“I might have more conservative views but there is nothing racist about what I said. Of course, I am being accused of being a racist which I have no history of whatsoever,” she said.

Erin Holmes, director of communications for the district confirmed to “The Ingraham Angle” that she was aware of the lawsuit but declined to provide further comment.

“At this point, it is a legal issue and we as a district cannot comment on any details,” Holmes told the program.

Hedgepeth’s attorney, Christine Svenson, defended her client in the interview, stating that her client was justified for being “terrified as an American citizen.”

“She teaches a diversity of opinion in her classes. The board found she was harming students and talking about racial issues… I wonder this: Are they going through the social media posts of all of the other teachers?” Svenson asked.

Hedgepeth remains in contact with only two of her previous coworkers who are “terrified” by the case.

“They are scared. Everyone is scared,” she said.

Hedgepeth struggled to find legal counsel willing to take her case.

“I called many lawyers and many people don’t want to touch it – Even Trump’s lawyers got demonized. It’s OK if you are a murderer but you can’t defend a teacher?”

Ashley Hill

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