Professor in W. Palm Beach loses job after complaint about racial justice course
I BELIEVE THIS GOES AGAINST THE CHRISTIAN BELIEFS THAT I HOLD CLOSELY, AND THAT PBA CLAIMS TO HOLD CLOSELY. … BECAUSE PBA TOOK THESE ACTIONS, I WILL HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO PURSUE MY LEGAL OPTIONS TO FIGHT BACK AND SHOW PBA, AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS, THAT THEY CANNOT GET AWAY WITH THIS.
Samuel Joeckel, former English professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University
An English professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University has lost his job after a parent complained about a racial justice unit he taught in one of his courses.
Samuel Joeckel, 50, announced on Instagram on Wednesday that the private Christian university in West Palm Beach had decided to terminate his contract early following a review of the writing assignment in his Composition II course.
“They did this for a clear reason: my decision to teach and speak about racial justice,” Joeckel wrote. “The timing of this is not a coincidence as we are dealing with an ‘antiwoke’ crusade from Governor DeSantis.”
Jason Masterson, a spokesman for the university, declined to comment in an email Thursday.
“On the advice of legal counsel, the university has no comment,” he said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference at Palm Beach Atlantic University the same day Joeckel, who taught at the university for more than 20 years, learned his unit was under review.
The professor had walked out of his classroom Feb. 15 and saw a dean and provost waiting with a letter that said his contract renewal would be delayed. Other faculty members received their contract renewals that same day, he said.
A parent had complained directly to the president about Joeckel’s course, saying that he was “indoctrinating students.”
The next day, Joeckel posted on social media about the encounter. Hundreds of comments from former students, alumni and others poured in. Over the following month, his story received national media attention.
On Friday of that week, Joeckel met with the dean to discuss his syllabus while the human resources representative listened. There was no mention of a specific concern with the course. But the human resources representative told Joeckel that his social media post from the day before violated the “do no harm” clause of the university’s policy, he said.
The policy reads: “Do No Harm: You play a vital role as an ambassador of Palm Beach Atlantic University, and this should be reflected in all actions online. Your communication on behalf of the university or as an individual should do no harm to Palm Beach Atlantic University, other individuals, or to yourself.”
Joeckel has taught at the university since 2002. No one had never taken issue with any of his previous courses, he told the Sun Sentinel in February.
Joeckel will now be taking legal action against the university, he said in the Wednesday social media post.
“I believe this goes against the Christian beliefs that I hold closely, and that PBA claims to hold closely,” he wrote. “… Because PBA took these actions, I will have no choice but to pursue my legal options to fight back and show PBA, and other institutions, that they cannot get away with this.”