Principal fired for Black Lives Matter comment receives $650,000 lawsuit settlement from school district

Republished from the January 19 Vermont Standard

Former Windsor High School Principal Tiffany Riley, who said she was improperly fired by the Mount Ascutney School Board in June 2020 for a comment she posted about Black Lives Matter on her personal Facebook page, has settled her federal lawsuit for $650,000. 

Tiffany Riley

Riley, who broke her long silence during a weekend interview with the Vermont Standard, said the unjustified firing was devastating and essentially ended a successful 20-year education career. She had noted in her lawsuit that comments made by the Mount Ascutney School Board and other officials had hampered her job search in education. 

Riley, who is a 1989 Woodstock Union High School graduate, said after her firing she applied for nearly 50 school jobs and never got one response. 

The Mount Ascutney School Board has now agreed to provide Riley with a positive recommendation letter as part of the settlement in the case. It said that while principal, “Ms. Riley worked diligently with staff to change the school’s culture. Under Principal Riley, students were held accountable for their attendance, behavior and academic achievements,” the one-page letter said in part.

Read more at The Vermont Standard, Windsor County’s largest, and the state of Vermont’s oldest, weekly newspaper. It serves the towns of Woodstock, Barnard, Bridgewater, Hartland, Killington, Plymouth, Pomfret, Reading, Quechee, and West Windsor.

Categories: Education

38 replies »

  1. I wish it were more. Patrice Collurs, co-founder of BLM has a couple mansions, which has nothing to do with bettering the lives of other African Americans. She sure is bettering herself, though. Do you think that homeless people of color or non-color can stay there with her?

    • Peter, I theorize that she will cache weapons and house violent militants at her mansions.

  2. The article’s title should be: School boards woke firing for BLM comment costs the taxpayers in the Windsor and West Windsor town $650K; ~$200 per taxpayer.

    • The money should come out of the fringe alt left progressive socialist lawmakers in Montpelier pushing this marxist agenda on Vermonters. Had Enough Yet Fellow Vermonters?

  3. Perhaps the 50 schools who did not respond to her job inquiries need a wake (woke) up call with a similar legal action. Unfortunately, these are the same people entrusted with shaping the minds of the youth with their completely one dimensional narrow focus.

    • That’s a good point. She should sue each and every one of them. Especially now that she has the money to do so.

  4. Since no one will say what she said, we can assume it was reasonably innocuous. Perhaps something along the lines of pointing out that BLM is a racist shakedown scheme operating under threat of mass violence, and along with Antifa, the usual useful idiots of the Left who rioted for an entire Summer, causing billions in damage and killing 40 people.

    But I would hate to get cancelled for saying it myself.

    • From VDC, June 17, 2020:
      The board statement quoted the following post by Ms. Riley: “I firmly believe that Black Lives Matter, but I DO NOT agree with the coercive measures taken to get to this point across; some of which are falsified in an attempt to prove a point. While I want to get behind BLM, I do not think people should be made to feel they have to choose black race over human race. While I understand the urgency to feel compelled to advocate for black lives, what about our fellow law enforcement? What about all others who advocate for and demand equity for all? Just because I don’t walk around with a BLM sign should not mean I am a racist [sic].”

      The above statement by Ms. Riley was posted on her personal FaceBook page.
      She, just as you and I do- have the same right to free speech.

    • Tiffany Riley said on her FB-
      I firmly believe Black Lives Matter, but I DO NOT agree with coercive measures taken to get this point across; some of which are falsified in an attempt to prove a point.”

      She also wrote that “While I want to get behind BLM, I do not think people should be made to feel they have to choose black race over human race.”

  5. Was there no accountability given to Superintendent David Baker? He came across as a simpering yes-man to the school board. He showed no spine.

  6. HOORAY!!! Good for her for standing up to Marxist little local “empires” !!! Now onto the rest of schools in this once free state wherein boards & principals think they can disallow citizens from being on taxpayer-funded school property because these “dear leaders” didn’t like what someone stated. Too b-a-d.

    WE are the government. And THEY are but the public servants.

    Keep on filing claims of action until the court clerk hollers!

  7. As Brian said this is not a cost per se to the board. This cost taxpayers. No doubt however it is good news to see this outcome and a win in the common sense column.

  8. would be interesting to know who footed the $650,000 bill ? Insurance or the fine folks of the school district?

    • It’s the taxpayers in either case. Either the cost is added to the annual budget or the insurance premiums are added to the annual budget. That’s the paradox of fighting the public school monopoly. The taxpayers are beating themselves to death. The only honest recourse is School Choice.

  9. Bully for Tiffany!
    However, we do live in a democracy. Every resident that voted for those board members shares in the responsability. We truly live in an age of celebrating ignorance and bad judgement. This will not end well, and test scores bare that out.

    • P VTR, In other words, we are living in the idiot apocalypse! The idiots have taken control and we need to TAKE BACK VERMONT from the progressive hordes!!!

  10. In my opinion the school district got off pretty easy considering her earning potential from when she was fired until she would normally have retired and the harm that her reputation suffered.

  11. Perfect example of why education is disintegrating. What a hero journey legacy she has pursued and a fine example a lovingly caring and thoughtful 🧐 professional. Time to re-examine Vermont independence before it is dangerously too late.

  12. People here are celebrating this as a victory. She should have got her job back, and the ability to fire 3 people above her. In the end, this was just the cost of doing business, and the people who pay don’t even matter.

  13. Meanwhile there are thousands of unfilled education jobs in the state and a absolutely qualified candidate is passed over for views that don’t align with their woke dogma. Yet they will still whine that thousands of jobs are unfilled, all to the detriment of children. Short sighted.

    • FYI – according to the Agency of Education, for the 2019-20 school year, there were 23,962 teachers and paraprofessionals in our public schools serving fewer than 80,000 students. That’s a 4 to 1 student teacher ratio. But more importantly, when counting all public-school staff, from Superintendents to bus drivers, there were 75,500 employed in the public school system. Do the math ratio.

      Keep in mind, according to the U.S. Dept of Labor, 40% of Vermont’s workforce is employed by the heavily tax subsidized education, health, and government sectors – an unsurmountable voting bloc. We don’t need more public-school employees. We need School Choice.

      • Another point on which we agree. However, I say tax ultra-wealth to pay for it. Unfortunately, there are no billionaires in VT.

  14. It does deem like a small settlement given the current litigious climate.
    And it is too bad that the scumbag public officials who denied the rights of free expression AND who used professional retribution are personally indemnified from any liability. In any case, it is a noteworthy win for free speech and separating one’s PERSONAL opinions from their professional obligations.

  15. Good for Ms. Tiffany Riley. Proud that she stood up for herself, the children and family across our great State.

    To Woke Schoolboards; wake up and do your jobs, these are our child, the parents, You people need to approve curricula to teach our children the three R’s, science, and REAL history. Stop this equity filth and CRT, SEL and queer studies indoctrination.

  16. Thank you Tiffany for standing up. Sorry the schools have treated you so harshly. I hope other school boards take note. This still is America! Vermont’s granite is etched with FREEDOM & UNITY. Let’s make sure we keep these vital foundations alive.

    We need people to step up and be school board members willing to keep these foundations in our schools to protect the children and community.

    This link has a short slideshow about needing good school board candidates by Jan. 30. Candidate paperwork can be found there, too. These candidates also need active teaming support of concerned citizens.

  17. Hallelujah! Case law established so anyone who is disciplined or fired for expressing an opinion, protected under the 1st Amendment, can now proceed to recoup any losses and inflict monetary consequences upon the thought police.

  18. Who was the law firm that represented her. I could sue the MAU board for their behavior towards me.

    • Hi Edward,
      Interesting. I say go for it ! Clearly, the person that replaced you has their head where the moon don’t shine with regard to “equity”. And I have read your stuff for quite a while and see that you are reasonable and truthful. Thank you for sticking your neck out to provide real information about the crazy “Vermont Way”

  19. Tiffany Riley could have asked for based on similar cases, as each case is unique and the specific circumstances and demands can vary. However, based on similar cases, some things that may be sought in a settlement include:
    =Reinstatement to the former position
    =Lost wages and benefits
    =Damages for emotional distress
    =Reimbursement of legal fees
    =A public apology
    =Changes to workplace policies to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future
    =Non-disparagement and confidentiality agreements